Imagine a future where you can just download a drug off the internet and print it out when you need a quick pick-me-up – it’s just become a reality thanks to the marvels of 3D printers. Researchers from Scotland have made their own DIY 3D-printing drugstore and they reckon you’ll be able to use them to print your own drugs right from the comfort of your own home.
From cases for your Raspberry Pi to printing up mini-F1 cars, the possibilities are endless for 3D printers, and they’re not even that expensive any more either. Boffins from the University of Glasgow used a system that cost just £1,250 range to create both organic and inorganic chemicals, which can be combined to form things like cancer drugs.
The researchers are calling the concept “reactionware”, where the compounds are layered one on top of the other like a cake. It’s not until a liquid is applied to the top layer that the reaction takes place forming your drug of choice.
"It's almost like a layer cake -- you print the last reactionary agent first and then build other chemical layers above, finally adding a liquid at the top. The liquid goes to layer one making a new molecule, which goes to the next layer creating another and so on until at the bottom you get your prescription drug out."
The researchers next step is to try and replicate drugs already available at your local pharmacy, and speed up the printing process and resolution. They’re confident that “in the future you could buy common chemicals, slot them into something that 3D prints and just press a button to mix the ingredients” – out would pop the drugs you need. Let’s just hope there’s an instant Lemsip button by the time this gets into the home – lord knows how many of those I get through in a winter cold season. [Nature Chemistry via BBC]
Image credit: Drugs from Shutterstock