Life in 3D

Sorry, Dealers: In the Future We’ll Get All Our Drugs From This 3D Printer

Want a Xanax? Just hit print.
Pills, pills, pills. (Photo: Global Post)

Pills, pills, pills. (Photo: Global Post)

3D printing aficionados eager for the new technology to disrupt the vice market were dismayed to discover this week that the much-hyped 3D printed gun fired six shots before falling the f*ck apart. But fear not: Kurzweil AI reports that a new 3D printer has been developed, and this one prints drugs.

The new device allows scientists to print molecule-by-molecule, specifying exactly where to place each atom. This means they can create drugs from scratch in a faster and more streamlined way: Instead of testing out compounds to see “what sticks,” the printer’s software automatically matches created compounds with strands of DNA, allowing scientists to design “very specific drugs based on their molecular structure.”

According to Kurzweil AI:

Using a simple “drag-and-drop” computer interface and DNA self-assembly techniques, Parabon NanoLabs researchers have developed a new automated method of drug development that could reduce the time required to create and test medications…To develop new drugs, scientists can use the CAD software to design molecular pieces with specific, functional components. The software then optimizes the design using a cloud supercomputing platform that uses proprietary algorithms to search for specific sets of DNA sequences that can self-assemble those components.

The 3D printer will also help find experimental new treatments, particularly when it comes to cancer drugs.

Of course, we can’t ignore the implications an invention like this might have on the everyday lives of New Yorkers: For one, the great adderall shortage of 2012 may have finally found its savior.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com

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