New 3-D Fabrication Technique Could Deliver Multiple Doses of Vaccine in One Shot

Engineering researcher Thanh Nguyen holds a slide showing a silicone mold loaded with drug-carrying microparticles. Nguyen invented the process using biocompatible polymers and a new 3-D fabrication technique.

Engineering researcher Thanh Nguyen holds a slide showing a silicone mold loaded with drug-carrying microparticles. Nguyen invented the process using biocompatible polymers and a new 3-D fabrication technique.


Anew 3-D fabrication technique invented by a UConn engineering professor could provide a safe and convenient way to deliver multiple doses of a drug over an extended period of time with a single injection.

Other 3-D printing techniques have been limited for such applications because they rely on printable inks that are potentially toxic to the human body.

But UConn assistant professor of mechanical engineering Thanh Nguyen circumvented those obstacles by adopting an additive manufacturing technique
commonly used for the manufacture of computer chips.

This … will help avoid the repetitive, painful, expensive, and inconvenient injections often required to administer drugs like growth hormones and pain medicine.

The technique, which Nguyen calls SEAL (StampEd Assembly of polymer Layers), can create hundreds of thousands of drug-carrying microparticles made of a biocompatible, FDA-approved polymer currently used for surgical sutures, implants, and prosthetic devices.

During the process, the polymer, PLGA, is shaped into a drug-carrying micro-shell designed to degrade and release its contents over an extended period, ranging from a few days to a few months. This allows for a drug’s release into the body in bursts, similar to what happens when a patient receives multiple injections over time.

“This application could enable the creation of a new set of single-injection vaccines or drugs, which will help avoid the repetitive, painful, expensive, and inconvenient injections often required to administer drugs like growth hormones and pain medicine,” says Nguyen, who invented the technique as a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Robert Langer’s lab at MIT. Nguyen joined UConn’s mechanical, biomedical, and regenerative engineering research teams last fall.

Details of the novel technique appear online in the journal Science.


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