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3D printing set to revolutionise breast cancer treatment



A world-first research collaboration is combining traditional multi-drug anti-cancer treatments with innovative pharmaceutical 3D printing technologies to help in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer patients.

FabRx Ltd, the biotechnology start-up that launched the pharmaceutical 3D printer M3DIMAKER, is working alongside Gustave Roussy, the French cancer research Institute recognised as the best oncology hospital in Europe, on the pioneering project. 

The anti-cancer therapy will be combined with anti-side effect treatment into a single pill using 3D printing technology to improve adherence rates and patient wellbeing. 

The collaboration aims to push the boundaries of current pharmaceutical thinking and make clinically used, pharmaceutical 3D printing a reality.

Currently, medicines are produced using mass manufacturing methods, creating dosage forms with identical characteristics of dosage, appearance and drug release. In addition, taking multiple pills every day and pre-preparing medication can reduce adherence to treatment plans, lowering their effectiveness. 

Pharmaceutical 3D printing offers an accurate, efficient and cost-effective method to avoid these issues, by combining multiple drugs with personalised doses into a single pill. Pharmaceutical 3D printing also offers future opportunities for further personalisation of medication, including flavours, colours and shapes, improving treatment adherence in multiple patient groups.

For this collaboration, FabRx – established in 2014 by academics from University College London (UCL) and now recognised as a world leader in the application of 3D printing technology for medicines and medical devices – and Gustave Roussy will develop 3D-printable formulations of anticancer drugs and anti-side effect medications. 

The formulations will be printed using FabRx’s M3DIMAKER. 

Once developed, these novel medicines will be used in a multi-centre clinical study led by Gustave Roussy, assessing the effectiveness of these new medicines for improving acceptability, adherence and ultimately patient outcome compared to the standard treatment regime. 

Upon completion, Gustave Roussy will negotiate an exclusive worldwide partnership with FabRx to commercialise these novel formulations, while also sparking future collaborations and research opportunities.

Alvaro Goyanes, co-founder and director of development at FabRx, says: “This collaboration is a big step forward for the implementation of 3D printing technology into the clinic and will provide better medicines to cancer patients, personalised to their needs.” 

Maxime Annereau, the pharmacist leading this project at Gustave Roussy and Dr Barbara Pistilli, oncologist and head of breast pathology committee at Gustave Roussy, say: “To reduce the risk of recurrence, many women with early-stage breast cancer are treated with hormone therapy for five years. 

“They are often required to take other treatments to manage side effects. Taking all of these treatments in a single tablet printed in 3D with personalised dosage should improve adherence to treatment. This collaboration will allow us to go even further in personalised medicine and offer our patients a tailor-made drug.”

This project is a part of the larger program INTERLACE led by Dr. Ines Vaz-Luis at Gustave Roussy. This program aims to change the paradigm of breast cancer survivorship care by focusing on personalising survivor care through the development of new therapeutic tools.  

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