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3D-printed nanoparticles show pharmaceutical promise

Researchers from the University of Seville (Spain) and the University of Nottingham (UK) have 3D printed stable gold nanoparticles with biocompatible systems to form an image. Specifically, the image formed was the logo of the University of Seville. The findings have been published in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports

The study could have significant impact in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in gold biocompatible biosensors. These sensors are capable of detecting carcinogenic cells as well as tumor biomarkers. In addition, there is potential for personalized biosensors based on the conductivity and biocompatibility of gold. 

Recently the pharmaceutical industry has taken an interest in 3D printing technologies as they allow for the manufacture of products that require precise geometries and can be cheaper alternatives to traditional production methods. This opens the possibility of personalizing pharmaceutical treatment plans on an individual patient basis.


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The study utilized a specific kind of 3D printing, known as inkjet printing. This technique allows for high resolution printing and the ability to print using multiple materials, simultaneously. 

Current gold inks used in inkjet printing are typically made from gold nanoparticles but have proven to be unstable. The team claims that they have been able to create tiny gold nanoparticles in a natural biodegradable polymer, increasing stability.

The team reported that their new, gold nanoparticles proved to be stable for 6 months and that they were a suitable size for inkjet printing. The image produced (Figure 1) shows the gold nanoparticles outlining the university logo on a blue polymer background.

3D-printed image using inkjet printed gold nanoparticles on the polymer
Figure 1: 3D-printed image using inkjet printed gold nanoparticles on the polymer. This achievement will have applications in the pharmaceutical industry, such as in the preparation of biocompatible biosensors based in gold, which have already been shown to be effective in the detection of carcinogenic cells and tumor biomarkers. Courtesy of the University of Seville.

Sources: Begines B, Alcudia A, Aguilera-Velazquez R et al. Design of highly stabilized nanocomposite inks based on biodegradable polymer-matrix and gold nanoparticles for inkjet printing. Sci. Rep. 9(16097) (2019); www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/uos-3pw011720.php



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