PUBLISHED: 04:40 EST, 23 July 2012 | UPDATED: 05:50 EST, 23 July 2012
Jump forward a few years, and we may find the humble pharmacy resigned to the history bin.
For a professor, described as a ‘one-man catalyst, has taken a commercially available 3D printer, and adapted it to inject organic-based inks into tube-like structures to create the new home-grown version of a pill.
Professor Lee Cronin, of Glasgow University, points out that most drugs are a combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and that ‘with a printer it should be possible that with a relatively small number of inks you can make any organic molecule.’
Having successfully demonstrated the concept, The team is now working on ways for 3D printers to print out relatively simple drugs such as Ibuprofen, in an experiment which could revolutionise medication.
The Guardian describes Prof Cronin as ‘a one-man catalyst’, who told the paper: ‘I just want to get stuff done fast.’
Describing his procedure, he said:’If I was being facetious I would say that to find your inks you would go to the periodic table: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and so on.
‘But obviously you can’t handle all those substances very well, so it would have to be a bit more complex than that.
‘If you were looking to make a sugar, for example, you would start with your set of base sugars and mix them together.
‘When we make complex molecules in the traditional way with test tubes and flasks, we start with a smaller number of simpler molecules.
‘With a printer it should be possible that with a relatively small number of inks you can make any organic molecule.’
Cronin used a £1,200 3D printer for his prototype, and used bathroom sealant as a base material on which to print the chemicals.
The printer could then inject the right proportions of molecules into micro-tubes within the template, with the ‘chemical inks’ then reacting with each other to form the requested drugs.
In the future, anyone with a printer could download the right blueprint for the drug, and print off what they need.
Cronin told the Guardian: ‘Imagine your printer like a refrigerator that is full of all the ingredients you might require to make any dish in Jamie Oliver’s new book.
‘Jamie has made all those recipes in his own kitchen and validated them. If you apply that idea to making drugs, you have all your ingredients and you follow a recipe that a drug company gives you.
‘They will have validated that recipe in their lab. And when you have downloaded it and enabled the printer to read the software it will work. The value is in the recipe, not in the manufacture. It is an app, essentially.’
In terms of getting the machines to the market, Cronin added: ‘There is no reason at all – beyond a certain level of funding – why it all couldn’t happen very soon.
‘As well as transforming the industry and making money, we could be saving lives. Why wait?’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2177604/From-statins-sugar-The-Chemputer-drug-organic-material-using-3D-printer.html#ixzz21Vfos1eY