Fabrication of fillable microparticles and other complex 3D microstructures

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Science  15 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6356, pp. 1138-1142
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf7447

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One route to improving the delivery of existing drugs is by encapsulation inside a protective but slowly degrading shell. Such slow-release capsules improve drug availability in vivo, reduce side effects, and allow for more constant dose delivery. McHugh et al. leverage a number of existing fabrication techniques to make tiny (∼400-µm), hollow injectable microparticles that can be filled with fluid containing the therapeutic agent. By adjusting the degradation rate of the microparticle material (in this case, a lactic/glycolic copolymer), the cargo in the internal reservoir can be released at a desired time, ranging from a few days to 2 months.

Science, this issue p. 1138


Three-dimensional (3D) microstructures created by microfabrication and additive manufacturing have demonstrated value across a number of fields, ranging from biomedicine to microelectronics. However, the techniques used to create these devices each have their own characteristic set of advantages and limitations with regards to resolution, material compatibility, and geometrical constraints that determine the types of microstructures that can be formed. We describe a microfabrication method, termed StampEd Assembly of polymer Layers (SEAL), and create injectable pulsatile drug-delivery microparticles, pH sensors, and 3D microfluidic devices that we could not produce using traditional 3D printing. SEAL allows us to generate microstructures with complex geometry at high resolution, produce fully enclosed internal cavities containing a solid or liquid, and use potentially any thermoplastic material without processing additives.

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