3D printers adapting drugs for seriously ill children


In a laboratory at BMC stands a machine, about the size of a coffee maker but with the potential to fundamentally revolutionize healthcare. "By 2030, we expect to have 3D printers in private homes that will create drugs in accordance to each individual need," says Christel Bergström, Professor at the Department of Pharmacy.

Christel Bergström, Professor of Molecular Pharmaceutics
Christel Bergström, Professor of Molecular Pharmaceutics

“The fact that many drugs are designed for adult bodies means that treatments seldom are suited for sick children. A tiny body often only needs a small fraction of the dose, therefore my team is using a 3D printer to create individually adapted drugs with the potential to make a big difference for both patient and caregiver, states Christel Bergström, Professor of Molecular Pharmaceutics.

The work started in 2017 when the Erling-Persson Family Foundation allocated a multi-million grant to the project. Along the road, among others, Maria Strömme, Professor of Nanotechnology and discoverer of the material Upsalite, has joined the process. At the Uppsala University Hospital, Young experts, a group of children and adolescents, contributes valuable insights of what it is like to be a patient.

“This work is among the most inspiring I have participated in. Every day, we see how many of our youngest patients experience difficulties taking their medicine. This opportunity to develop drugs with a taste, look, shape and dosage that will suit the individual child is of course extremely important,” says Mattias Paulsson, Deputy Chief Pharmacist at the Uppsala University Hospital.

Christel Bergström, the Faculty of Pharmacy

The success factors include a virtual intestinal environment developed by Christel Bergström's team. It is a tool that enables studies of how different substance combinations and doses affect release and absorption in the intestine. Today, the focus is on children, but as soon as the production of 3D-printed drugs is quality-assured, older patients who take multiple medications and whose metabolism changes over time will also be a relevant target group.

“Within a few years, we expect to establish a test center at the University Hospital. After that, our ambition is to place the printers in the patients' homes. By loading with prescribed substances that can be printed via login with, for example, a bank ID, this is a safe technology that will make everyday life easier for numerous children and adults,” says Christel Bergström.


  • The project Personalized medications for children suffering from severe diseases is conducted at Christel Bergström's research environment for Drug Delivery.
  • Maria Strömme, Professor of Nanotechnology, Gustaf Ljungman, Professor of Pediatric oncology, Gunnar Liminga, Senior physician in Pediatric neurology, and Mattias Paulsson, Deputy Chief Pharmacist a o are involved in the process.



Christel BergströmChristel Bergström, Professor
Department of Pharmacy

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

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Last modified: 2024-04-04