New 3D Printed Films to localise chemotherapy

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  • Drug-loaded 3D printed films have the potential to change cancer treatments forever, according to world-first research from the University of South Australia. The new films not only kill more than 80% of liver cancer cells, but they also significantly reduce recurrence rates while minimising the systematic toxicities of traditional chemotherapy.
3D printed films are loaded with exact doses of chemotherapy drugs
3D printed films are loaded with exact doses of chemotherapy drugs/Source: UniSA

A team of researchers at the University of South Australia is revolutionising liver cancer treatment by using 3D printed films to localise chemotherapy at the surgical site. This novel approach aims to reduce the negative effects of traditional chemotherapy by delivering potent drugs directly to the affected area, potentially preventing cancer recurrence and improving patient quality of life.

Originally developed for liver cancer, these precision-cut films show promise for a variety of cancers. Dr. Souha Youssef of the University of South Australia highlights the high recurrence rate of liver cancer and the aggressive nature of current treatments. The 3D printed films, which release drugs such as 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin directly into the surgical cavity, provide targeted and sustained treatment, representing a significant step forward in patient-friendly cancer therapy.

3D Printed Films to Localize Chemotherapy

UniSA research team using 3D printed films localize chemotherapy for liver cancer treatment/Source: UniSA

Every year, over 800,000 people are diagnosed with this cancer around the world. Globally, liver cancer is the third leading cause of death from cancer, accounting for 75% of cases.

The 3D printed films, made from gels loaded with tailored doses of anti-cancer drugs 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and cisplatin (Cis), are placed at the exact surgical site where a cancer has been removed, directing drugs to the affected area to treat any remaining cancer cells and limiting the negative side effects of traditional chemotherapy.

Initially intended as an adjuvant treatment for liver cancer, the precision-cut 3D printed films have the potential to treat ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer, and a variety of other cancers where 5FU and Cis have already shown efficacy.

Dr. Souha Youssef, a UniSA researcher, believes the novel films have the potential to revolutionise liver cancer treatments.

“Despite medical strides, liver cancer remains a highly aggressive and deadly form of cancer with recurrence rates of up to 70%. The main treatment protocol requires the surgical removal of the tumour followed by chemotherapy, which while crucial to prevent relapse, is very challenging due to its debilitating side effects.”

– Dr. Souha Youssef, Researcher, UniSA

Dr. Youssef said, “There are striking statistics that show how many patients choose to discontinue treatment due to its aggressiveness and how it is affecting their quality of life.

Dr. Youssef added, “To bridge this gap, we developed a post-surgery chemotherapy-loaded film, that releases 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin directly into the surgical cavity. This targeted approach releases the drugs into the exact cavity and lower amounts into the bloodstream which otherwise cause serious side effect at high doses.”

Tailored treatment protocols for patients

Using cutting-edge 3D printers, researchers have been able to tailor treatment protocols for each patient, with in-lab tests showing a higher response rate in the treatment of liver cancer.

Professor Sanjay Garg, a senior researcher and co-director of UniSA’s Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation, believes that a tailored approach to cancer treatment is critical to improving patient outcomes.

“Due to the heterogeneous nature of cancer, a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer suitable. With a simple touch of a button, 3D printers enable endless opportunities to modulate drug release profiles, customise film geometry, and add or remove active ingredients based on individual needs. Our films also demonstrate controlled drug release lasting up to 23 days, ensuring sustained treatment benefits.”

– Prof. Sanjay Garg, Senior researcher and co-director, UniSA’s Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation

Prof. Garg added, “Importantly, the biodegradable nature of the films adds a significant advantage of eliminating the need for surgical removal post-treatment, making it a more convenient and patient-friendly option for liver cancer therapy.”

The research team will soon begin preclinical trials to establish a crucial correlation between tumour size and the optimal dosing and release profile, paving the way for future clinical trials.

About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D Printing. Visit our Global News page for more updates on Global 3D Printing News. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow us on Google News.

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Abhimanyu Chavan is the founder of Manufactur3D Magazine. He writes on Additive Manufacturing technology, interviews industry leaders, shares industry insights, and expresses his thoughts on the latest developments in the industry. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
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