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3D medical printing in the spotlight at Arab Health 2016

New cost-cutting technological advancements in 3D printing showcased at Arab Health 2016 aim to enhance patients’ lives


Dubai, UAE, 8 December 2015: The evolution of 3D printing is changing the ability doctors have to impact patients’ lives. It has moved from being theoretical to a reality as we witness major medical advances because of this technology. The global 3D printing market was estimated to be worth $2,183 million in 2012 and is expected to reach $8,675.7 million by 2020 according to Grand View Research Inc. The healthcare industry is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 14.74% during 2014 through to 2019 due to increasing technological advancements and growing population base.

The 3D Printing in Healthcare conference will take place during the Arab Health Exhibition & Congress from the 25-28 January 2016 in Dubai, UAE.

3D printing is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file and body parts. In a report by Oxford Performance Materials, almost 75% of a patient’s skull was replaced with the help of 3D printers. Some of the most widely used 3D printed items are dental implants, hearing aids and artificial limb replacements. 

According to Dr Nizar Zein, Chair of 3D Printing in Healthcare Conference and Head of Global Patient Services, Cleveland Clinic: “3D printing will change patients’ lives and facilitate previously seemingly challenging surgeries. The ability to provide custom design, patient specific materials to use in surgical planning is an emerging field especially for high risk procedures with an anticipated improved safety.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first 3D-printed prescription drug, an epilepsy medicine called Spritam, essentially validating the technology as a new heavyweight player in big pharma. The purpose of drug development should be to increase efficacy and decrease the risk of adverse reactions, a goal that can potentially be achieved through the application of 3D printing to produce personalised medications. However, these advancements are not only in the pharmaceutical industry, but also in organ printing. While an entire organ has yet to be successfully printed for practical surgical use, scientists and researchers have successfully printed kidney cells, sheets of cardiac tissue that beat like a real heart and the foundations of a human liver, among many other organ tissues. 

It has also helped drive cancer research. In the same way that tissue and types of organ cells are being printed and studied, disease cells and cancer cells are also being bio-printed. Such medical advancements help for better drug testing, cancer cell analysis and therapy development. With the current developments taking place, it may even be a possibility within this lifetime that a cure for cancer is discovered.

“Patients will be able to receive a customised tablet that particularly suits their daily needs. For instance, 3D printing technology provides an affordable and highly flexible production platform that can be operated by the pharmacist tailored to patients who continuously need to change their dose or drug combination in response to a clinical reading. Such an approach would be considered too expensive and impractical using conventional manufacturing facilities and processes. On the other hand, producing tablets through 3D printing opens the door to re-engineering the tableting process and producing new structures and functionality that were not possible before,” explains Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, Lecturer in Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.

3D printing of medicine, just like any other pharmaceutical technology, has to go through rigorous clinical trials and regulatory procedures. Nevertheless, there is now the first FDA approved product, mass-produced by 3D printing. It is expected that more clinical trials and products are likely to be announced in the next few years. UAE health centres may adopt the new technology in the next five to 10 years. 

About Arab Health Exhibition & Congress 2016

Arab Health Exhibition & Congress is the largest healthcare event in the Middle East. Established 41 years ago, Arab Health provides a platform for the world’s leading manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors to meet the medical and scientific community in the Middle East and subcontinent. The Arab Health Congress is the world’s premier multi-track CME-accredited medical congress with 20 conferences. Arab Health, organised by Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions, takes place from 25-28 January 2016 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. 


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