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Pharmaceutical Technology Europe® spoke with Carlos Rial Calvo from FABRX, a pharmaceutical 3D printing company, at the inaugural Start-Up Market on the show floor at CPHI Barcelona 2023.
Within the highly regulated pharma industry, adoption of new technologies is generally slower than in other industries, as such, despite three-dimensional (3D) printing being available for some time now, its use in the production of medicines is still very much a novelty. However, 3D printing technology has a great potential within the pharma industry, particularly for personalized medicines.
FABRX, a small start-up company that was created by academics from the University College London in the United Kingdom, is focused on the use of 3D technologies in the future of medicine. At CPHI Barcelona 2023, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe® spoke with Carlos Rial Calvo, lead software engineer of FABRX AI—a subsidiary of FABRX based in Spain and started in 2023—to learn more.
“Our aim is to personalize medicine for patients,” explained Rial Calvo. “This is very useful, for example, for highly potent drugs that require very specific dosing.” Additionally, using 3D printing technology to personalize medicine is very useful for pediatrics, who can find swallowing medication difficult, so, Rial Calvo pointed out that it is possible to produce medication that is easier for children to adhere to.
Similarly, for patients that need to take multiple tablets, Rial Calvo noted that with the 3D technology it is possible to create polypills—a combination of different APIs in one printlet (3D printed tablet). “We create polypills, and then [the] patient only has to take one tablet,” he said.
FABRX is currently collaborating with hospitals across Europe, Rial Calvo specified. “For example, we are running a clinical trial in an [oncology] hospital in France to combine an anti-cancer drug with a drug for the side effects [of the cancer treatment] into the same pill,” he stated (1).
In another clinical study, the company has worked with the University of Santiago de Compostela and the University Hospital in Santiago de Compostela in Spain to develop a 3D printed medicine for a rare disease, Rial Calvo revealed. For this study, FABRX prepared doses of isoleucine for children with maple syrup urine disease—an inherited metabolic disorder (2). Using the 3D printing technology, flexible production of a personalized dosage form was possible.
“We provide the software for controlling the machines, but also the software provides features to help with the development of new formulations,” Rial Calvo concluded. “So, the researchers can use our software as well, with the machine, to test new materials.”
1. FABRX. FabRx and Gustave Roussy Enter into an Agreement to Develop a Novel, Personalised, Multi-Drug Dosage Form for the Treatment of Patients with Early-Stage Breast Cancer. FabRx.co.uk, Press Release, June 25, 2021.
2. FABRX. FabRx Performs the First Clinical Study Using Personalised 3D Printed Dosage Forms to Treat Children with a Rare Metabolic Disease. FabRx.co.uk, Press Release, Sep. 3, 2019.
Fabrx was featured at the inaugural Start-Up Market on the show floor at CPHI Barcelona 2023. CPHI Barcelona ran from Oct. 24–26, 2023.