The rise of 3D printers seems to know no limits – we’ve already seen everything from 3D-printed clothing to made-to-order printed cars – and the medical profession is latching on to the technology’s possibilities. Could hair loss treatment one day be made available through this innovative delivery system?
3D printed pill gets FDA approval
There have already been printed prosthetics for injured animals and 3D-printed dental implants, but a world first was recorded last week when the US Food And Drug Administration Agency (FDA) approved a 3D-printed pill for people with epilepsy.
According to The Guardian, the Spritam pill was developed by a company in Ohio and its manufacture on 3D printers allows for a more porous structure. As a result, it is easier to swallow than a regular tablet although researchers continue to explore how different pill structures affect dose delivery. Changing the shape can seemingly help absorption rates by allowing drugs to be released into the body at different speeds.
The article quotes Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a lecturer in pharmaceutics at the University of Central Lancashire, who says that the opportunities presented by 3D printing are wide-reaching. “For the last 50 years,” he says, “we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to hospitals. This new process means we can produce tablets much closer to the patient.”
Bespoke pills to suit patients’ needs
More importantly, Dr Albed Alhnan says, hospitals could create bespoke pills for each patient, with precise doses to suit their needs, managed by the shape in which the medication is printed.
Glasgow University’s Professor Lee Cronin is taking this a step further by investigating how technology could be used to ‘develop new drugs at a molecular level’. He is currently developing what is being called a ‘chemputer’ which allows chemical experimentation with 3D printed results.
Researchers believe we are heading in the direction of doctors being able to provide patients with ‘recipes’ for their prescribed drugs, which they could then print out themselves using a home 3D printer.
The possible ways in which this approach may one day revolutionise hair loss treatment are certainly food for thought. For instance, being able to have the ingredients of hair growth boosting dietary supplements, such as Hair Vitalics, specially tailored to your specific needs and made available to print out as needed, could be extremely handy.
Ramifications for hair loss treatment
Hair loss treatment courses to combat Male Pattern Baldness, for example, can include pills which contain the active ingredient Finasteride 1mg, a clinically-proven drug which is licensed by the MHRA and FDA.
“This is a really interesting development which could well benefit those wanting to use male hair loss treatments in the future,” says Christina Chihaker, superintedent pharmacist at Belgravia’s flagship Victoria clinic. “Although there is no need for any men taking finasteride 1mg to manage their dosage – it is fixed at 1mg per day – where being able to print your own treatments could be helpful is in situations where clients move around a lot, for instance if you were travelling and forgot to take your tablets with you. It could also help to deliver treatments to countries all over the world, particularly in areas where the postal service can be unreliable.”
However, Christina also warns that the printing of prescription medication at home would need to be tightly monitored. “For all the potential benefits and convenience – assuming by this point people would have easy access to 3D printers – being able to print out pills is something that would need to be very carefully monitored, with steps put in place to avoid any errors. Whether these mistakes were in the formula becoming corrupt, or allowed people to over-print unsupervised for their own personal use, or replicate the recipes in order to sell them on to others who have not undergone the necessary medical checks, there are a number of potential loopholes which could prove dangerous so these would need to be thoroughly trialled before this kind of option could become widespread.”
3D printing is advancing at such a rapid rate, however, that in the coming decade bespoke hair loss pills made on a 3D printer could certainly enter the fray. Whether or not they’ll be able to replicate minoxidil – the other clinically-proven genetic hair loss treatment which comes in liquid or foam form – is another question. So, certainly for now and most likely for the foreseeable future, you’re better off consulting a hair loss specialist to find out more about ways to regrow your hair.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.