Researchers developing chemputer that prints drugs

Sep 21, 2019 spiqldfx

first_imgWe are finally reaching the point that 3D printers are leaving the realm of science fiction to become a reality. Perhaps in the near future you will be able to download and fabricate an assortment of household objects. If one chemistry professor from Glasgow University has his way, you won’t even have to leave the house to go to the pharmacy — you’ll be able to “print” your drugs at home.The system under development by Professor Lee Cronin is not a 3D printer as we understand it; the scale of organic chemistry is far too small for that. What is being described is a series of custom printed reaction chambers that could be used to synthesize pharmaceutical compounds. Along with the precisely-sized chambers, and a downloadable drug “app,” Cronin believes at-home drug production is possible.The printers would require the input of a series of basic reactants, which the team is referring to as “chemical inks.” These would be simple organic molecules that can be modified to build useful compounds. Using the programming as a guide, the system could use the reaction chamber to synthesize the necessary drug from inks without the user’s intervention.Cronin’s team is still working on generating its first chemical app for Ibuprofen, which is fairly simple. Some drug synthesises will be easier than others, though. In organic chemistry, there are a lot of variables to consider. Heat, pressure, contamination, and even light can affect the nature of the end product. There is also the problem of chirality, or the “handedness” of a molecule. Some drugs interact with your body in the same way regardless of chirality, but others might be inert or even toxic in the wrong form. That’s a lot to worry about with your at-home drug printer.Professor Cronin is keen on presenting this as a drug dispensary for your kitchen, but it would probably be better suited for local pharmacies. Someone will have to check the quality of the end product and maintain the chemical printer very well.It might be science fiction, but it’s a really cool idea that could actually improve drug distribution in many areas of the world.For more information on how Professor Cronin’s system works, check out our earlier coverage of his drug printing ambitions, via The Guardianlast_img

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