(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.
In honor of UTSA's 50th Anniversary in 2019, the university is hosting Roadrunner Days Spring Edition - two weeks of semester-launching activities built around our deeply held values of student success, student involvement, community service and fun!Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy invites everyone to its monthly lecture and stargazing event (weather permitting).Flawn Building (FLN 2.02.02) and Curtis Vaughn Jr. Observatory, 4th floor of Flawn Building, Main Campus
All UTSA students, faculty, staff, alums & families are invited to march as a unified community. Register here: bit.ly/2TYbHbR. Shuttles will be provided from the Main and Downtown Campuses.Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, 3501 MLK Dr., San Antonio
UTSA's John Nix invites the community to sing "Amazing Grace" and “We Shall Overcome” at 11 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The intent of this nationwide effort is to honor Dr. King's legacy and to spread a sense of community in the United States.Locations throughout the United States
Opening Reception got exhibit featuring artists Miguel Aragon, Aaron Coleman, Sandra Fernandez, Annalise Gratovich, Marco Hernandez, Kristen Powers Nowlin, & Patricia Villalobos EcheverriaMain Art Gallery, Arts Building (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Tracy Cowden, Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and chair of the UTSA Department of Music launches the UTSA 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series with Music as Medicine: The Power and Influence of Music on our Health.Radius Center, 106 Auditorium Cir. #120, San Antonio
UTSA African American Studies Program presents this series featuring Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus)
Join fellow Runners to walk for 10 minutes on the Main Campus. The event reminds us of the importance of exercise, diet and healthy habits in protecting our hearts.Outside the North Paseo Building, Main Campus
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.
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