Livin' on the MDedge

Porous pill printing and prognostic poop


Printing meds per patient

3D printer tomspentys/Unsplash

What if there was a way to get exact doses of a medication, tailored specifically for each and every patient that needed it? Well, apparently it’s as easy as getting them out of a printer.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia in England may have found a new method to do just that.

Currently, medicine is “manufactured in ‘one-size-fits-all’ fashion,” said Dr. Sheng Qi, the research lead. But no patient is exactly the same, so why shouldn’t their medications be just as unique? Research on pharmaceutical 3D printing has been developing over the past 5 years, with the most common method requiring the drug to be put into “spaghetti-like filaments” before printing.

Dr. Qi and his team developed a process that bypasses the filaments, allowing them to 3D-print pills with varied porous structures that can regulate the rate of release of the drug into the body. This could be revolutionary for elderly patients and patients with complicated conditions – who often take many different drugs – to ensure more accurate doses that provide maximum benefits and minimal adverse effects.

Just as a custom-tailored suit perfectly fits the body for which it was made, the ability to tailor medication could have the same effect on a patient’s health. The only difference is what’s coming through the printer would be pills, not fabric.

It’s hip to be Pfizered

Close-up of bottles of COVID-19 vaccine peterschreiber_media/iStock/Getty Images

COVID-19 vaccination levels are rising, but we’ve heard a rumor that some people are still a bit reticent to participate. So how can physicians get more people to come in for a shot?

Make sure that they’re giving patients the right vaccine, for one thing. And by “right” vaccine, we mean, of course, the cool vaccine. Yes, the Internet has decided that the Pfizer vaccine is cooler than the others, according to the Atlantic.

There is, it seems, such a thing as “Pfizer superiority complex,” the article noted, while adding that, “on TikTok, hundreds of videos use a soundtrack of a woman explaining – slowly, voice full of disdain, like the rudest preschool teacher on Earth – ‘Only hot people get the Pfizer vaccine.’ ” A reporter from Slate was welcomed “to the ruling class” after sharing her upcoming Pfizer vaccination.

For the ultimate test of coolness, we surveyed the LOTME staff about the COVID-19 vaccines they had received. The results? Two Pfizers (coincidentally, the only two who knew what the hell TikTok is), one Moderna, one Johnson & Johnson, and one Godbold’s Vegetable Balsam (coincidentally, the same one who told us to get off his lawn).

And yes, we are checking on that last one.

Allergies stink!

A baby crying. Petro Feketa/iStockphoto

A baby’s first bowel movement might mean more than just being the first of many diaper changes.

That particular bowel movement, called meconium, is a mixture of materials that have gone into a baby’s mouth late in the pregnancy, such as skin cells and amniotic fluid. Sounds lovely, right? The contents also include certain biochemicals and gut bacteria, and a lack of these can show an increased risk of allergies, eczema, and asthma.

Studies show that certain gut bacteria actually teach the immune system to accept compounds that are not harmful. Since allergies and other conditions are caused by a person’s immune system telling them harmless compounds are bad, it makes sense that lacking gut bacteria might show potential for developing such conditions.

Charisse Petersen, a researcher at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, told NewScientist that parents could help decrease the development of allergies by not giving their children antibiotics that aren’t necessary and by letting kids play outside more.

Tom Marrs of King’s College London even noted that having a dog in the house is linked to a lower risk of allergies, so it might be time to get that puppy that the kids have been begging you for all through the pandemic.


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