There is a big trade off in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare that personalization is expensive and completely at odds with manufacturability and scalability. If you want to make something cheap it has to be all the same. That goes against the idea of personalization. With this approach you break this trade-off. There is no dilemma. There is no longer an either/or situation. You can get personalization and ease of manufacturing.
HLM: Who owns the rights to this?
Shtein: The University of Michigan has the rights to the technology, but we are in conversations to see what the best way to proceed would be.
HLM: What should we be looking for as this technology progresses?
Shtein: We need input from people who are out there working with specific ailments and conditions who are developing treatments. In particular, folks are working to develop data bases based on electronic medical records that allow a very intelligence physician or a deep-learning algorithm to learn what each patient needs and translate that to formulations.
We want to find conditions that are very difficult to treat using existing techniques where people could look at our study and get inspired to say ‘Could you help us with this compound delivered in this particular way to treat this condition?’ if we could work with those people we could get a cure to that population sooner.
HLM: Can this technology be used remotely?
Shtein: When you need something specific you can have a set of instructions and a cartridge or series of cartridges and this thing makes it on demand. Rather than transporting boxes of pills all over the place, it is a much more elegant way to do it.
HLM: What other uses do you foresee for this technology?
Shtein: Doing diagnostics to help people avoid acute conditions and reduce the cost of healthcare. This technique may help with that. We can deliver so many different compounds on a small area extremely precisely. That can be used for diagnostics.
For example, let’s say you’re allergic to something but you don’t know what. Right now the best you can do is go to a hospital or an allergist who is going to stick pins in your skin with all these different allergens. They do it on a grid and see how you react. You have to kill your entire day to find out. Well, if we can do the same test on an area that was smaller than one-inch, we could do it mail a patch to you that you put on and then the patch gets the information automatically, I just saved you a whole day.
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.