Exone end to end binder jetting service

3D Printed Microneedle Array Technology May Offer New Eye Disease Treatment

INTAMSYS industrial 3d printing

Share this Article

According to a report commissioned by the Prevent Blindness America organization, eye disorders and treatment for people with vision loss cost close to $139 billion annually. 3D printing has been called on multiple times to help learn about and diagnose eye disease, as well as to create implants and create corneas for transplant patients, but it’s not used as often to treat them, as it can be very difficult to deliver drugs into a person’s delicate eyes. But a researcher from Washington State University (WSU) has just been awarded a grant from the US Department of Defense to come up with an easier, less expensive and painful way to treat serious eye diseases…using 3D printing.

While eye drops may seem convenient, they’re not always that effective because they can be diluted by tears. A physical barrier exists between most parts of a person’s eye and its blood vessels, so doctors often have to turn to direct eye injections and laser surgery to treat eye disease. Unfortunately, periodic direct eye injections can each cost nearly $2,000, and laser therapy comes with some risky side effects. That’s why it’s so important to use modern technology to find less costly and more efficient ways to deliver ocular drugs.

WSU Assistant Professor Kuen-Ren “Roland” Chen

The DoD gave Kuen-Ren “Roland” Chen, an assistant professor in the WSU School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, an 18-month, $264K exploratory grant to develop a programmable microneedle array, using 3D printing, that will be able to deliver drugs in a sustained manner directly into a patient’s eye.

Touted as a minimally invasive, pain-free alternative to the standard, scary-looking hypodermic needle and syringe, microneedles are tiny, and can be stacked next to each other in a group to form a microneedle array. Chen, along with WSU PhD student Maher Amer, is working to improve upon existing microneedle technology by developing a locking and unlocking technique for an array of 3D printed microneedles.

Chen’s method locks microneedles in place with a polymer gel, and would give doctors a way to attach the array to a patient’s eye, so necessary drugs can be delivered for long periods of time; later, the microneedle array can be easily detached.

Mock-up prototype of the microneedle array. Item is not made of the final material with the programmable feature. It shows the relational size of the microneedles and the actual device. The ultimate overall diameter will be smaller than what’s shown in the photo.

Not only does a steady, sustained delivery of drugs make delivery more efficient, it also lowers the cost by reducing how much of the drug is required for treatment, as well as limit visits to the patient’s clinic or hospital. In addition, Chen said that his 3D printed microneedle array technology will cause fewer side effects and less pain than direct eye injections, and also be far less invasive.

Right now, the researchers are in the middle of developing the necessary mold for fabricating the microneedles, and testing out Chen’s innovative locking mechanism. Chen and Amer have initial plans to develop the microneedle array so that it can deliver drugs directly into the eye for a month. While this sounds like a terrifyingly long amount of time, it could actually lower abnormal blood vessel growth more effectively than using a single direct eye injection.

In the future, the technology could potentially be used to treat major eye diseases, like age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source/Images: WSU]

 

Share this Article


Recent News

GE Additive Partnership to Establish BEAMIT Metal 3D Printing Powerhouse

Design for Disruption: 3D Printing Design for Installation



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Dream 3D Printing Soonicorns: Essentium, ICON & More

As of July 2021, 291 companies achieved the coveted mythical $1 billion status, far surpassing any previous year’s peak, according to financial platform Crunchbase. With 2021 proving to be a...

Massive 3D Printed Park Erected in Shenzen, China

Forget the mutually reinforcing buildup of their respective militaries – the real battle between the United States and China is in the field of 3D printing! You’ve probably heard of...

Featured

3D Printing Innovator’s Roundtable Webinar: Ditching DfAM and Embracing Design Freedom

In an industry where change is constant and unpredictable, professionals across the manufacturing industry have turned to additive manufacturing (AM) to overcome design and supply chain challenges. But conventional AM...

Startup Accelerator, Singapore: Dental 3D Printing, Services, and More

This is the eighth article detailing the 3D printing startup scene in Singapore. Teehee Dental Works Teehee Dental Works is a dental lab and dentist with a difference. Along with...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.