Efficient 3D printing manufacturing platform for poorly soluble drugs

Novel 3D printing approach enables single-step manufacturing of poorly soluble drugs


A large number of pharmaceuticals are eliminated by the body due to their poor water solubility. This limits effectiveness because the drugs cannot be efficiently absorbed. To overcome this, drugs can be administered in an amorphous state rather than a crystalline state. Amorphous drugs show higher reactivity and better solubility than their crystal counterparts. However, they are extremely unstable due to their increased reactivity. Amorphous drug formulations are susceptible to recrystallizing, causing decreased solubility.

To overcome this issue, the pharmaceutical industry has adapted amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs). ASDs stabilize the amorphous drug by dispersing it in a polymeric matrix; this prevents the drug from recrystallizing. However, current methods of making ASDs come with major limitations. It is necessary to develop new ways to create ASDs to improve drug delivery and effectiveness.

Technology description

The Williams lab at The University of Texas at Austin has developed a method to utilize selective laser sintering (SLS) 3-D printing to create ASDs. 3-D printing is an exciting new frontier in pharmaceuticals development. SLS 3-D printing is already used in other pharmaceutical applications, such as making precise drug matrices to control drug release. Others have tried using SLS 3-D printing to make ASDs, but failed due to only partial ASD formation. The Williams lab has pioneered multiple drug formulation platforms that have produced clinical stage formulations.  By stringently adjusting the processing parameters, they were able to manufacture the first ever complete ASDs from SLS 3-D printing. This approach for ASD production resulted in a 21-fold increase in solubility of an example drug, ritonavir.1 The Williams Lab SLS 3-D platform is a single-step method for robust and efficient production of poorly soluble drugs.

1. Davis, D. et al., Selective Laser Sintering 3-Dimensional Printing as a Single Step Process to Prepare Amorphous Solid Dispersion Dosage Forms for Improved Solubility and Dissolution Rate, Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences,  In Press (2020) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xphs.2020.11.012