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HP aims to speed drug discovery research with inkjet technology
April 2011
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PALO ALTO, Calif.—Technology giant Hewlett-Packard Development Co. (HP) recently released a drug research application for the company's inkjet technology that reportedly enables pharmaceutical companies to more efficiently develop better drugs through vastly more precise dispensing of dosages.
 
According to HP, inkjet technology brings the same efficiencies to the drug discovery process that it brought to printing, "allowing for on-demand, small-volume, high-precision production at costs significantly lower than existing analog processes."
 
HP says its high-performance inkjet dispensing technology is now being used to speed the evaluation of how potential drug compounds impact biologic agents like cancer cells at very low concentrations. This new capability can help researchers significantly improve accuracy when evaluating drug safety and effectiveness, testing for drug interactions and developing new drugs, the firm says.
 
HP also says its methodology can decrease expensive labware and biological fluid waste associated with complex, conventional testing methods, reducing research costs. The process also can improve productivity by eliminating many time-consuming and tedious steps in the drug discovery process, according to HP.
 
The company cites a recent Nature report which found that pharmaceutical companies invest nearly $16 billion in drug discovery research each year evaluating novel chemical compounds as potential drugs to prevent or treat diseases such as diabetes or cancer.
 
"Current methods for drug dosing rely on costly manual or automated processes, which are time consuming, error prone and wasteful," says Kathy Tobin, vice president and general manager of Specialty Printing Systems at HP. "Our inkjet 'scalable printing technology' can precisely and rapidly dispense droplets that have one-third the width of a human hair, offering pharmaceutical companies the high-performance dispensing necessary to streamline critical R&D processes and speed drug discovery research."
 
HP adds that it continues to evaluate other important new market spaces, such as in- vitro diagnostics, where its inkjet technology can have a positive impact.
 
HP is working with several leading pharmaceutical companies to incorporate its dispensing technology into their own workflows, with very promising results, the company says. The company did not name specific pharma customers.

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