3D-printed drug-loaded films could transform cancer treatment


16th April 2024 – (Canberra) University of South Australia, researchers have pioneered the use of 3D-printed films loaded with cancer-fighting drugs, showing significant potential in the fight against liver cancer and potentially other forms of the disease. This novel technology could dramatically alter post-surgical treatments and significantly reduce cancer recurrence rates.

The innovative films, crafted using advanced 3D printing techniques, are embedded with precise doses of the anti-cancer drugs 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and cisplatin (Cis). These films are strategically placed at the site of surgical tumour removal, providing a targeted approach to attack any residual cancer cells while minimising the systemic toxic side effects typically associated with chemotherapy.

Initial studies indicate these films are capable of destroying over 80 per cent of liver cancer cells. Their application, however, is not limited to liver cancer alone. The research team has identified potential for treating other types of malignancies effectively treated with 5FU and Cis, such as ovarian cancer and cancers of the head and neck.

Souha Youssef, a co-author from UniSA’s Center for Pharmaceutical Innovation, highlighted the considerable benefits of this technology, particularly for liver cancer patients who often forgo conventional post-surgery chemotherapy due to its debilitating side effects. “The targeted delivery not only ensures the drugs are concentrated in the area most needed but also significantly reduces their presence in the bloodstream, which can lead to severe side effects when drugs are administered in high doses,” Youssef explained.

The biodegradable nature of these films means they naturally break down in the body, eliminating the need for further surgical intervention for removal. Each film releases its drug payload over a period of 23 days, offering sustained treatment without ongoing medical intervention.

This technology leverages state-of-the-art 3D printing capabilities to customise treatment plans for individual patients, ensuring each patient receives the most effective concentration and combination of drugs. Such personalised treatment is at the forefront of modern medical innovation and could herald a new era in cancer treatment, significantly impacting global cancer statistics where liver cancer alone leads to over 830,000 deaths annually.