The challenge to develop new antibiotics is real and pressing. Thankfully, researchers are not going at it alone, as HP Inc. recently signed on to participate in a pilot program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program, which seeks to create and test new antibiotics for combatting antimicrobial resistant bacteria, will utilize HP bioprinters for producing pharmaceutical samples.
Though not strictly 3D bioprinting, the effort is still an interesting project for printing specialists HP. In the pilot project, the company explains, the CDC will deploy HP D300e Digital Dispenser BioPrinters to four regional labs in the Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network. Once installed, the machines will be used to rapidly turn out samples for the purpose of developing new drug testing methods.
“Bacteria continuously develop new ways to resist antibiotics—once a drug is approved for use, the countdown begins until resistance emerges,” explained Jean Patel, PhD, Science Team Lead, Antibiotic Resistance Coordination and Strategy Unit, CDC. “In fact, resistance has even been detected before FDA approval. To save lives and protect people, it is vital to make technology accessible to hospital labs nationwide. We hope this pilot will help ensure our newest drugs last longer and put gold-standard lab results in healthcare providers’ hands faster.”
In other words, the hope with the new pilot program is that the HP bioprinters will enable hospitals to speed up antimicrobial susceptibility testing to ensure that a particular drug is actually effective. By installing the bioprinters at various facilities, the testing can be conducted regularly and locally which can increase the overall performance of antibiotic treatments in patients.
Again, despite HP’s well known 3D printing MJF platform, its bioprinting system functions more in two dimensions. In short, the machine dispenses molecules and biomolecules (at a picoliter to microliter scale). This method can reportedly be used for drug discovery, genomics and proteomics research.
Through its collaboration with the CDC, HP will offer its bioprinters to labs in New York, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin in early 2019. Understandably, the pilot program will first target testing for highly resistant bacteria strains. Pan-resistant bacteria (meaning bacteria resistant to most antimicrobial agents) will be the first thing to be tackled.
Going forward, HP will continue to collaborate with the CDC to evaluate and refine the pilot project and, down the line, explore the possibility of extending it nationwide.