January 18, 2021

Researchers in Korea successfully used a 3D-printed carrier to deliver a sustained load of immuno-suppressive agent in tests with animal models. The carrier, a combination of microspheres and hydrogel, maintained robust integrity and immuno-suppressive drug cyclosporine A (CsA) in an amount that overcame the need for additional drugs to treat immune rejection.

“Our objective was to show the feasibility of using a subcutaneous 3D-printed drug delivery system to achieve local and sustained CsA release and to investigate the local immuno-suppressive effects of the CsA after cell transplantation,” said Dong-Woo Cho from Pohang University of Science and Technology, Korea.

“The improved load-bearing capacity of the combined microsphere and hydrogel system, and its ability to maintain its integrity and shape during the implantation period, helped to deliver a sustained CsA release, preventing the acceleration of the secretion of cytokines related to immune rejection,” explained Dong-Woo.

3d printed drug credit

The researchers noted that many trials have attempted CsA delivery based on either microspheres or hydrogels, but most encountered serious problems, such as organ damage due to migration of the microspheres from the injection site. Also, weak mechanical properties in several other kinds of systems caused premature dissolution and placed limitations on drug load quantity.

However, the improved load-bearing capacity of the vehicles and improved structure that the Korean team developed allowed the sustained release of CsA at the desired site.

“This research could be a fundamental study for overcoming existing cell transplantation limitations, mainly caused by systemic immuno-suppression,” wrote the researchers, who advocated 3D printing technology for a variety of medical applications, including printing membranes of various shapes.

Cell-based therapies often require the use of allogeneic (other human donated) cells or xenogenic (different species donated) cells that can stimulate an immune rejection response, requiring the use of immuno-suppressive drugs to prevent acute transplant rejection.

The introduction of CsA improves the success rate of transplantations, but systemic administration requires high doses of immuno-suppressant that can have severe side effects.

“The benefit of the new 3D printed carrier system is that it provides local rather than systemic drug delivery. The carrier we developed could be a promising solution to treating several diseases that require cell-based therapy, such as muscular dystrophy, degenerative disc disease or myocardial infarction,” concluded the researchers.