Chemical MP3 Player Converts Digital Code into Pharmaceuticals
A new method of drug manufacture which uses 3D printers to create pharmaceuticals on demand could lead to a ‘Spotify for chemistry’. In a new paper published January 19th in the journal Science, researchers from the Cronin Group at the University of Glasgow present for the first time a new approach to the manufacture of pharmaceuticals which can be made using a digital code.This code is used by a 3D printer to produce a portable factory, which can then be used to make the drug by adding the chemicals in a pre-defined fail-safe sequence.
This approach could dramatically increase the number of useful drugs available regardless of patent-life, as they will no longer need to be made in a limited number of dedicated manufacturing facilities. In the paper, Cronin Group researchers demonstrate the potential of the system by producing the pharmaceutical Baclofen, a muscle relaxer used to treat muscle symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis, including spasm, pain, and stiffness. The team’s chemical factories are designed using a chemical-to-digital converter to digitise the process so that it can easily be reproduced in a 3D printer, a process which the researchers liken to converting a compact disc to an MP3 file which can then be listened to on any computer or portable music player. With the addition of a simple instruction manual, the drug can be produced when and where it is needed.
University of Glasgow News Story
Link to paper in Science
Video of the process on YouTube