(Aug. 7, 2018) -- Researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) are developing a 3D printed implant that, when injected in a patient’s body, could deliver a personalized dose of medicine to treat infections and ailments such as arthritis, cancer and AIDS. The project, led by Lyle Hood in the UTSA College of Engineering and Albert Zwiener in SwRI’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division, is supported by a $125,000 grant from the organizations’ Connecting through Research Partnerships (Connect) program.
For a drug to be effective, patients must take a minimum amount, but not so much that it makes them ill or causes serious harm. Subsequently, someone who needs frequent and precise doses of a specific medicine either has to take a pill each day or visit a doctor for treatment. To remedy this, the San Antonio researchers are developing an implantable device that can deliver a controlled, personalized dose of medicine over several weeks.
“The implant addresses a specific patient’s illness in addition to their medical history and other health issues,” Zwiener said. “We inject this non-invasive device into the body to deliver medicine over a significant period of time.”
The design, which Zwiener and Hood created with UTSA graduate research assistant Priya Jain, incorporates complex geometries to personalize each device to an individual’s ailment and takes advantage of the selective timing and release of the compound. The team will create the device with a specialized 3D printer at UTSA that can print biodegradable materials. This makes removal of the implant unnecessary; it will simply dissolve inside the body when the treatment is complete.
The implant is also engineered to trigger localized immunotherapy for cancer treatments. Immunotherapy enlists the body to attack cancerous tumors. The UTSA-SwRI team believes that the device’s localized treatment capabilities can trigger the body to destroy the invasive cancer.
“If clinically translated, this would allow for doctors and pharmacists to print specific dosages to meet patient’s needs,” Hood said. “In immunotherapy, most strategies employ systemic circulation through an IV line, much like chemotherapy. This can cause issues with immune reactions far away from the intended target. We hope that by delivering locally, we can keep acute effects constrained to the diseased region.”
While the implant is ideal for cancer treatment, it’s designed to be drug agnostic, meaning that it can work with any type of drug and could have a significant impact on a wide array of diseases and ailments.
The Connecting through Research Partnerships (Connect) Program, sponsored by the UTSA Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise (VPREDKE) and the SwRI Executive Office, is a grant opportunity offered to enhance greater scientific collaboration between the two institutions and to increase both UTSA’s and SwRI’s research-funding base with cross-campus collaborative programs.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Learn more about the UTSA-SwRI Connect program.
Emerging artists work in the full range of traditional methods and materials as well as in interdisciplinary and new media. Themes range from social and cultural critique to investigations that are challenging and exquisite explorations in creative form and image.UTSA Art Gallery, Arts Building, Main Campus
Juan Vallejo’s art conveys his experience as a childhood migrant worker. Opening reception: Thurs, Dec. 5, 6–9 p.m. Free and open to the public.UTSA Terminal 136, Blue Star Arts Complex, 136 Blue St., San Antonio
Portions of Cook Road will be closed for construction related to the new Student Success Center project and Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk upgrades.Cook Road, Main Campus
Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music and peace. A remarkable true experience, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it. UTSA partners with The Public Theater for this event. Contact the theater at (210) 458-3288 for scheduling requests.Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus
Forty-six modular units will be delivered to Main Campus as part of the new Student Success Center project. The units will enter campus at Brennan Avenue and will travel to their final destination, south of the North Paseo Building and Graduate School and Research Building via Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road and Devine Avenue.Brennan Avenue, Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road, Devine Avenue, Main Campus
Enjoy two classic holiday performances. Children’s Ballet of San Antonio will present two of The Nutcracker. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will perform a traditional Pastorela play, a morality tale about shepherds going to Bethlehem and the snares the devil uses to dissuade them. Performances are included with regular ITC admission.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chavez Blvd., San Antonio
Celebrating graduating students from the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Guest speaker: Susan Pape '86, chairman of the San Antonio Express-News.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.