Med­i­cine from a pharma 3D Printer

Dr. Markus Dachtler, CEO of the system sup­plier DiH­eSys Dig­ital Health Sys­tems GmbH, has a vision: Pro­viding cus­tomized treat­ments to patients by printing drugs. In an inter­view, he talks about the road to get there, the ben­e­fits of per­son­al­ized treat­ment and the phar­ma­ceu­tical printers devel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Harro Höfliger.

Dr. Dachtler, what sig­nif­i­cance does per­son­al­ized med­i­cine have for you?

It is esti­mated that up to 60% of all drugs pre­scribed today do not achieve the desired ther­a­peutic ben­efit. With DiH­eSys we would like to play a part in changing this sit­u­a­tion. Per­son­al­ized ther­a­pies that are tai­lored to the indi­vidual patient enable a more tar­geted treat­ment with fewer side effects. For example, the optimal amount of active ingre­dient strongly depends on body weight. In addi­tion, in Ger­many alone there are more than 13 mil­lion patients who need to take more than three dif­ferent drugs per day. The elderly are often the ones, who find it dif­fi­cult to suf­fi­ciently con­trol and coor­di­nate mul­tiple drug intake. There­fore, per­son­al­ized med­i­cine also aims to pro­duce indi­vid­u­al­ized com­bi­na­tion products.

Who ben­e­fits besides the patients?

Improved treat­ment suc­cess could sig­nif­i­cantly reduce costs for the health care system. Envi­ron­mental pro­tec­tion also plays a role, with per­son­al­ized med­i­cine, only the drugs that are really needed are pro­duced, and in doses that are exactly tai­lored to the patient. Indi­vidual dosing will increase ther­a­peutic suc­cess and dras­ti­cally reduce phar­ma­ceu­tical waste. Not least, there are also ben­e­fits for research: With the printing sys­tems of per­son­al­ized med­i­cine, clin­ical studies can be con­ducted faster and more pre­cisely in the future.

Per­son­al­ized drugs enable patient-spe­cific dosing and the com­bi­na­tion of dif­ferent active ingredients.

How does DiH­eSys con­tribute to per­son­al­ized treatment?

Our work focuses on the indi­vid­u­al­ized pro­duc­tion of printed drugs. We spe­cialize in the per­son­al­ized pro­duc­tion of thin films for oral intake in 2D printing and tablets in 3D printing. With both dosage forms, we can pro­vide patient-spe­cific dosing and com­bine sev­eral active ingre­di­ents in one drug. We offer a com­plete package that includes printer, for­mu­la­tions and car­tridges, but also soft­ware and data management.

Did you develop your own hardware?

Together with Harro Höfliger, we are devel­oping the Flex­DosePrinter, a printer suit­able for the phar­ma­ceu­tical industry that can pro­duce med­i­cines in 2D and 3D printing. Being able to offer the processes for both methods from a single source is what makes DiH­eSys unique: From the for­mu­la­tion devel­op­ment of active ingre­dient con­taining inks for 2D printing or fil­a­ments for 3D printing to the pro­duc­tion of drugs in the Flex­DosePrinter, all the way to the supply of con­sum­ables such as cartridges.

Can you explain the printing of thin films in more detail?

During this process, so-called ODFs are pro­duced, short for “Oral Dis­persible Films”. The basis are placebo car­riers, on which we print an active ingre­dient solu­tion exactly in the quan­tity required by the respec­tive patient. Inside the printer is a heating plate: After printing, it ensures that the sol­vent evap­o­rates, and the active ingre­dient remains. This method is par­tic­u­larly suited for low-dose drugs, such as hor­mones or cer­tain cyto­static drugs.

You men­tioned phar­ma­ceu­tical 3D printing; how does it work?


With 3D printing, per­son­al­ized tablets can be pro­duced in any shape. The basis are print­able, well-tol­er­ated polymer fil­a­ments with the embedded active ingre­dient. As with thin films, we print the tablet from these poly­mers with exactly the amount of active ingre­dient required by the patient. Also larger quan­ti­ties of active ingre­di­ents can be processed because we only need very few excip­i­ents. In addi­tion, it is pos­sible to com­bine sev­eral active ingre­di­ents in one tablet by printing them in dif­ferent layers, or to adjust the release of active ingre­di­ents from the tablet to the indi­vidual needs of the patient.

What role does data man­age­ment play for DiHeSys?

We are cur­rently working on solu­tions where we use anonymized treat­ment data for per­son­al­ized med­i­cine. Our goal: After entering patient data such as weight, height and, if pos­sible, lifestyle habits, med­i­cines can be pro­duced with the Flex­DosePrinter. Drugs could then be printed directly in hos­pi­tals or phar­ma­cies. Access to data­bases and being able to draw on expe­ri­ences from past ther­a­pies offer great oppor­tu­ni­ties to find the best treat­ment options. By the way, data already plays an enor­mous role in med­i­cine today. For example, com­puters in the field of dif­fer­en­tial diag­nosis help to find the best pos­sible therapies.

Why did you choose Harro Höfliger as a partner for the FlexDosePrinter?

The Flex­DosePrinter is suit­able for the pro­duc­tion of per­son­al­ized thin films and tablets.

With our plan to build phar­ma­ceu­tical printers for per­son­al­ized med­i­cines, we entered unchar­tered ter­ri­tory. As Man­aging Director of Gen-Plus in Munich, an inno­v­a­tive high-tech phar­ma­ceu­tical devel­op­ment lab­o­ra­tory, I already know Harro Höfliger as a future-ori­ented spe­cialty machine man­u­fac­turer who is capable of devel­oping the ideal solu­tions for our require­ments. For example, we already jointly devel­oped a machine with an inte­grated printing unit for the man­u­fac­ture of per­son­al­ized thin films. In addi­tion, we knew that the com­pany had the nec­es­sary expe­ri­ence in the field of per­son­al­ized med­i­cine, for example in the exact dosing of microtablets. Their focus on sys­tems for phar­ma­ceu­tical and med­ical tech­nology appli­ca­tions also con­vinced us. This has made it pos­sible for us to meet the high demands of the med­ical phar­ma­ceu­tical industry; at the same time, the com­pact printers fit on any table. With their phar­ma­ceu­tical exper­tise and per­sonal and visionary approach, Harro Höfliger has proven to be the ideal partner for the devel­op­ment of the FlexDosePrinter.

What does the future hold in store?

The future of per­son­al­ized med­i­cine is def­i­nitely exciting. At DiH­eSys we are cur­rently working on inno­v­a­tive drug delivery sys­tems: Tablets con­taining var­ious con­trolled-release active sub­stances. Each active ingre­dient is released and absorbed exactly where it is needed most in the body – of course tai­lored to the indi­vidual patient.

About DiH­eSys

DiH­eSys is an inno­v­a­tive, dig­ital health­care provider. The com­pany develops and man­u­fac­tures infor­ma­tion and process engi­neering sys­tems to pro­vide patients with access to per­son­al­ized medicines.

The prod­ucts and ser­vices opti­mize the drug supply of patients in all areas (pre­ven­tion, diag­nos­tics, treat­ment and ther­a­peutic suc­cess). With the Flex­DosePrinter, DiH­eSys offers its cus­tomers a man­u­fac­turing system for indi­vid­u­al­ized med­i­cine in 2D and 3D printing, from print­able drug for­mu­la­tions to the pro­duc­tion of per­son­al­ized medicines.

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Photos: DiH­eSys, Helmar Lünig