Skip to main content


U. Mich. Explores Drug Printing Technology

By John Commins  
   October 04, 2017

HLM: Are you looking to focus on a particular field of study?

Shtein: Oncology is a very interesting area in part because the medicines can be quite expensive, the treatments can be quite complex, and oftentimes there are certain characteristics of the medication for treating cancer that make it difficult to get the medicine to the cancer, to maintain a regime that people are going to be willing to go through.

There are a lot of possibilities in treating cancers locally, but there is no way to deliver the medication locally, aside from painful injections and even that is an issue because the medicine doesn’t dissolve well. We have worked with a couple of compounds that are used for treating cancer, and we showed that we can enhance these solutions. Toxic solvents aren’t needed for getting it into the system. We demonstrated in a petri dish and there is a lot of promise, but you won’t know how it will work in a living system until you do those studies.

HLM: Does this technology have the potential to disrupt how pharmaceuticals are delivered?

Shtein: We don’t aim to disrupt. That is not our goal. What want to provide a better way of doing things and hope there is a more natural migration of interest from the old crummy way of doing it into this new better way of doing it.

From a standpoint of a person needing something that is uniquely tuned to their body, metabolism, genetic condition or whatever, it is going to be super easy to do that. If you have a course of action that requires a dozen different drugs or compounds and you have to take a dozen pills on a complicated daily schedule, and for half of the drugs the amount is too large and for the other half it is too small, that’s pretty hard.

With our techniques you should sidestep all of that. You print exactly what the person needs. You can do it in a pharmacy or maybe at a doctor’s office or maybe distributed manufacturing thing going on to make that possible. Thinking about it in those terms, all of a sudden it opens possibilities for prescribing medicines in a totally different way.

HLM: Should the shareholders at CVS or Walgreens be nervous?

Shtein: This could be an opportunity for them too. They might have a bunch of people in back now who are counting pills and mixing solutions when they could be providing a lot more value if they could personalize the medicine even further.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.