Here at Medgadget, we’ve covered the use of printers to do pretty much everything from fabricating human tissue, to punching holes in cells, to even creating life size replicas of a fetus in the womb. Over at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, chemists have succeeded in bringing the wonders of 3D printing into drug development with a new method that could one day bring the pharmacy to your home.
Using a commercial 3D printer and open-source CAD software, Professor Lee Cronin and his team have created “reactionware vessels”, essentially custom-designed polymer gels that aid in chemical reactions. While this process of drug production is actually common in large-scale chemical manufacturing, the use of 3D printing makes it possible for the first time to fabricate fully customized reactionware vessels, which gives chemists much better control over the reactions that take place within. According to Cronin, his team has already successfully synthesized three unique drug compounds by merely altering the design of the reactionware.
Moreover, large, industrial methods of drug compound production are often expensive and time-consuming; with 3D printing, which is continually becoming faster and more affordable, Cronin and his team were able to fabricate reactionware much faster and cheaper than it would take using large-scale methods. Cronin thinks that someday, their method could be used by smaller, less wealthy pharma companies or even home consumers to design their own medication.
However, it could be a while before you’re able to hit “CMD + P” on your keyboard and print your own Vicodin. The technology is still in very early stages, and the possibility of a home-based drug lab might not bode so well with certain agencies.
Article from the University of Glasgow: DIY drugstores in development at the University of Glasgow…
Journal abstract from Nature Chemistry: Integrated 3D-printed reactionware for chemical synthesis and analysis