Researchers at the University of Glasgow develop 3D technology to print drugs.
3D printing involves the use of a robotically controlled syringe that builds an object out of a gel-based “ink”, into which chemicals and catalysts are mixed. Gels are deposited at room temperature and subsequently set without the need for heat or chemical curing steps.
“Chemists normally put chemicals in glassware to create a reaction,” said Prof Lee Cronin, who came up with the idea. “What we are doing is mixing the concept of the glassware and the chemicals together in the 3D printer to create what we call ‘reactionware’”. Such ‘reactionware vessels’ are custom-designed, polymer gels that hold chemicals and aide reactions.
The scientists predict the technique will be used by pharmaceutical firms within five years, and by the public within 20. The low cost and the self-contained nature of these devices means that they could be used safely even in non-laboratory environments. This points to a single-user designed engineering system. Thinking hypothetically here, could it then be possible to find ‘recipes’ online, like you would for an apple crumble, to print your own drugs? And how is the FDA going to react to DIY drugs made at home? There is often hype in the news surrounding new drugs, technology or diagnostics and I am interested to see where the 3D printer is headed.
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