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3D Printers Create Drugs

3D Printers Create Drugs

3D printers could print tailor made drugs on demand…

Scientists at the University of Glasgow are pioneering the use of 3D printers to print drugs and other chemicals.

The team used a £1,250 system to create a range of organic and inorganic compounds, some of which are used to create cancer treatments.

With more research, the team hopes that the technique could be employed to print custom drugs on demand. Researcher Mark Symes told reporters:

We are showing that you can take chemical constituents, pass them through a printer and create what is effectively a chemical synthesizer in which the reaction occurs allowing you to get out something different at the end,

Were extrapolating from that to say that in the future you could buy common chemicals, slot them into something that 3D prints, just press a button to mix the ingredients and filter them through the architecture and at the bottom you would get out your prescription drug. [BBC]

To create the drugs, the 3D printer uses a robotically controlled syringe, which builds the object using gel-based ink mixed with chemicals and a catalyst.

3d printers used to create drugs  550x374 3D Printers Create Drugs

3D Printers Used To Create Drugs

Image Credit: Candy, 2009.

Prof Lee Cronin, who devised the concept said:

Chemists normally put chemicals in glassware to create a reaction. …

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…

Its 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. [BBC]

Until recently researchers had been using a bathroom sealant to create the reactor, however the materials produced were unfit for human consumption. Scientists are now switching ingredients to replicate drugs in the pharmacy; they are also working with engineers to increase the speed and efficiency of the printers.

If successful, the project could lead to downloadable recipes tailored to the patient’s specific needs.

This would not only place traditionally expensive chemical engineering technology within reach of typical laboratories and small commercial enterprises, but also could revolutionize access to healthcare and the chemical sciences in general in the developing world, [Nature Chemistry]

The paper was published published in the Nature Chemistry journal.

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