Home / Blog / Print your “pills”

Print your “pills”

A “pill” scaffolding that can embed a variety of drugs, each one with its own programmable rate of release. It might be the future of custom drug-pills. Image credit: University of East Anglia

As you grow older (I am an expert in this field!) you see an exponential increase in the number of pills your doctor wants you to swallow. It doesn’t help that as your age “improves” you are likely to become more confused and forgetful.

Hence, getting at the right time the right pill is an issue that is just getting worse over time (both your time as you grow older and the universal time as more and more ailments are fixed using some pills).
This is where the pill invented by researchers at the University of East Anglia comes handy.

Basically it is a generic pill, consisting of a 3D printed scaffolding that, as it is being printed is stuffed with specific drugs. Normal pills are made by mixing some inert substance to provide shape and volume with the medicine -the active component- pressed together to form a swallowable pill. Using 3D printing technology researchers have been able to extrude the active components (more then one, as needed) into a structure whose physical characteristics regulates the release of the active substance. You can “engineer” the pill to release certain substance within minutes of ingestion and others over several hours.

In this way a single pill can provide all the medicines you need through the day, released at the right pace, each one independently of the others.

You can get all the details from the article (you can request a copy).

This is in line with the trend of personalised medicine, where drugs are designed to fit your specific need. In the longer term one could even imagine that you can order (through your Digital Twin) customised pills on line to be manufactured according to your profile and your doctor’s prescription (watch the clip).

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.