Researchers at the University of South Australia (UniSA) in Adelaide, Australia, have manufactured an esophageal stent which can help treat cancer patients.
Stents are small tubes that are implanted into the body in order to keep passages such as blood vessels or airways open. They are used commonly in cardiovascular medicine to keep blood vessels open when plaque builds up, and angioplasty immediately after a heart attack.
They come in metal and plastic varieties depending on need.
In this case, the stent is an oesophagal stent and is printed with a flexible polyurethane filament, and it is infused with chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil.
The drug is released slowly over a period of up to 110 days, and can be tailored to fit any patient in terms of size, geometry and the rate at which the drug is delivered, thus offering direct delivery of the drug to the site of the cancer, and reducing the growth of the tumor.
In addition, the plastic is suitable for sterilisation by both UV and gamma radiation, allowing the production of a safe, sterile product for implantation.
“3D printing processes that combine medicines and medical devices are on the precipice of changing the way we deliver medicines,” said Professor Sanjay Garg, Senior researcher and Director of UniSA’s Pharmaceutical Innovation and Development Group.
“We’re now exploring the potential of 3D printing to design precise and individualized drug delivery systems.”
You can see the stent in the image below.