Lung Cancer Treatment: 3D Printing Molds for Personalized Airway Stents

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Australian scientists are working to improve medical devices for lung cancer treatment, sharing the outcome of their recent study in ‘Incorporating Chemotherapeutic Drug into a Personalizable Silicone Airway Stent for the Treatment of Lung Cancer and Tracheobronchomalacia.’

With a focus on relieving serious symptoms like central airway obstruction (CAO), the research team experimented with 3D printing molds to produce drug-eluting personalized airway stents, incorporated with chemotherapy drugs like Paclitaxel that inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Interior view of current Y-stents used today, including the metallic Wallstent™ [A] and the Novatech® Dumon™ silicone stent [B] used in many CAO treatments, which do not correlate well with unique patient airway geometries [C].

Because diseases like lung cancer may leave patients struggling to breathe, pharmaceutical treatments and the use of effective devices can be critical to the quality of their lives—and even saving them in some cases. The researchers note that there are challenges with airway stents being used today due to a lack of personalization for patients, resulting in airway stent therapy that is often not effective. There may be other issues too, such as stent migration cased by improper fit.

“Unfortunately, airway stents have not developed, in large due to low relative prevalence of surgery and poor outcomes, since the release of Montgomery and Dumon stents during 1965 and 1989 respectively, despite leaps in 3D imaging and drug release technologies,” explain the researchers.

Drug-eluting stents offer potential in eliminating toxicity in delivery, as well as offering much-needed customizations for patients for better fit—reaping the rewards of one of the greatest benefits of 3D printing for the medical arena today with patient-specific treatment rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ premise for everyone. These benefits are heavily evidenced today in areas like prosthetics, heart valves, bio-active patches, and more.

Concentrations used during testing of drug elution from silicone stent materials.

Paclitaxel was added to the silicone molds, leaving the team of researchers to then perform a detailed assay on the Beas-2B cells derived from healthy patients and H23 adenocarcinoma cells derived from nonsmall cell lung cancer patients. The drug was insoluble in PBS, while ‘highly soluble in ethanol.’

Difference (f1) and Similarity (f2) factors used to determine the significance of the difference between release rates of paclitaxel concentrations and formulation methods in cured silicone coupons.

Variances in release rates of drugs demonstrate the potential for further manipulation, with adjustments to the paclitaxel in silicone coupons or via other techniques. The authors reported that there has been similar success with other stents.

Percentage of drug, paclitaxel, released from 250 mg silicone coupons in ethanol at 37°C, over 72 hours (n=3). Table 1 denotes A, B, C, D, E, and F silicone coupon conditions.

Cell viability for Beas-2B and H23 immortalised cell lines, grown on paclitaxel eluting silicone coupons, over 72 hours (n=6). An 80% cut-off was used to determine cellular viability.

“The implications of characterizing a successful controlled release of paclitaxel from cured liquid silicone rubber will allow clinicians to personalize treatment depending on airway geometry and control for the targeted dose of paclitaxel to the area of interest, thereby reducing the side effect profile of paclitaxel and its excipients (i.e. ethanol and polyoxyethylated castor oil) in systemic circulation,” stated the researchers.

“Further assessment in the comparability of paclitaxel release into lung-like environment is needed to characterize the effectiveness of drug release.”

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[Source / Images: ‘Incorporating Chemotherapeutic Drug into a Personalizable Silicone Airway Stent for the Treatment of Lung Cancer and Tracheobronchomalacia’]

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