3D printers to create living room drug labs

It may soon be possible to print your own drugs from the comfort of your living room, downloading software ‘apps’ to create a concoction of your choice.

According to scientists at the University of Glasgow, we may soon be able to design and create medicines from our home.

With advances in technology such as telehealth systems the need to visit the quack is diminishing.  But a trip to the chemist could also be averted with the potential to print your own medicine.

Professor Lee Cronin lead a team which has created a system using open source software and a 3D printer to create chemical products – without the need for large scale chemical engineering.

The team built what they call ‘reactionware’ which makes it possible to create special vessels used for chemical reactions using a polymer gel that sets at room temperature.  

It is then possible to add other chemicals to the gel which is deposited to the printer, a process often used in factory scale drug production.

The reactionware method means that the vessel which holds the drugs is part of the reaction process, and has allowed the scientists to synthesise three previously unreported compounds.

Advances in the increasingly cheap 3D printing process means that precise control can be made over drug reactions.

The future for the technology is intriguing.  The team sees a possibility of software apps allowing consumers to create their own “designer drugs” in the comfort of their own home.

Clandestine meetings with drug dealers in Tesco car parks could, some will hope, be averted.

The Tony Montanas of the future might well soon be ditching their handguns and mobile phones for a quality printer and a high speed net connection.