Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Print Your Own Drugs?

Ok, now there is a science fiction concept that I never thought of!  Consider this however, as the tech for 3d printing continues to advance, plus advancements in biosynthesis and molecular construction, it may become a reality that medications and drugs could be simply printed on the spot as needed!

This amazing idea  comes from Craig Venter who is known for being one of the first to sequence the human genome. 

The core idea for this tech idea originates from Venter who speculated about sending a DNA sequencer to Mars, in hopes that DNA material could be found.  With a sequencer on hand, DNA could then be sequenced and studied remotely.  But it pretty much stalls right there.  It would be so much better to have the material at hand speculated Venter,  but unless the rover can somehow send biological material back or we send a probe to gather and return with that material, we are basically out of luck.

Consider however a spacecraft that could "phone home" the information we need, instead of the actual material itself, and using this "mailed" information, the DNA could be reassembled in labs on Earth. 

Venter now envisions one single machine a "printer" if you would that could handle all facets of biologics or even drugs.  From the Dvice article:
  • one single machine that can "print" drugs by carefully combining nucleotides, sugars, amino acids, and whatever else is needed while u wait. Technology like this would mean that vaccines could be produced locally, on demand, simply by emailing the appropriate instructions to your closest drug printer. Pharmacies would no longer consists of shelves upon shelves of different pills, but could instead be kiosks with printers inside them. Ultimately, this could even be something you do at home.  
Professor Lee Cronin, the chair of chemistry at Glasgow University, has taken the concept of 3d printed chemicals and drugs to a new level.  Cronin and his team have developed a new 3D printing process to synthesize chemicals.(note graphic in upper right)

Above, A research team at the University of Glasgow has created a 3D printing process that may be able to print custom drugs for patients.

The original NewScientist article can be read here

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