Scientists from the University of Mississippi have developed a vaginal 3D printed film aimed at bettering drug delivery for cervical cancer patients. Oral medications, the common route, often present absorption issues, side effects, and are not always favored by patients.
This research, spearheaded by Eman Ashour, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and drug delivery, and researcher Ahmed Almotairy, originated from the latter’s doctoral dissertation. Their primary focus was on the drug disulfiram, previously used for treating alcoholism but has demonstrated potential against various cancers.
The team merged hot-melt extrusion (HME) and 3D printing to create patient-specific doses. HME reshapes materials post-melting, and the scientists utilized it to generate drug-laden filaments, subsequently used in 3D printing the accurate dosage.
Notably, the heat-sensitivity of disulfiram presented a challenge for its vaginal administration. However, this was addressed by refining the drug’s design and modulating HME processing temperatures. The resultant film allows for targeted medication delivery since the cervix is readily reachable via the vagina.
“The results of this user-inspired study will contribute to improving patient outcomes and treatment alternatives,” said Ashour.
“We hope to build new technologies based on this project’s success and explore other disease states and uses in the future.”
Beyond cervical cancer, this technology could extend to the vaginal delivery of other drugs, such as antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-cancer, and hormone medications.
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