U.S. News

3D Printers For Prescription Drugs Could Be In Homes Within 20 Years

Scientists at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom have made strides in research they believe could lead to the development of at-home drugstores through 3D printing technology.

On April 15, the team published an article in the journal Nature Chemistry explaining the motivation for developing a chemical process that eventually could allow patients to print out their own prescription drugs.

"We developed strategies to produce integrated 3D-printer/design-software/chemistry packages whereby individuals could one day have access to chemistry and chemical discovery without the need for expensive laboratory infrastructures," the article states.

The team developed special polymer vessels called "reactionware" that are able to host chemical reactions. Adding other chemicals into the gel allows the vessel itself to become part of the reaction process, according to a news release from the university.

Researcher Lee Cronin, who compared the chemical-building process to a layer cake, broke down the concept to the BBC.

"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'," Cronin told the organization.

The research marked the first time this concept was executed on a laboratory scale, Co.Exist points out.

According to the BBC, scientists estimate the technology will make its way into the public sphere within the next 20 years.

Although the technology would have both economic and convenience advantages, PC World's Chris Brandrick notes that the DIY technology "could easily be abused."

Visit Nature Chemistry online to learn more about the research.