A new and compact drug manufacturing system, which relies on 3-D printing and chemical analysis software, has the potential to quickly and conveniently produce a variety of medications on-site.

The advancement sidesteps many challenges that come with mass production of drugs at large-scale facilitates. For example, central drug manufacturing plants are costly to maintain and to repurpose for the production of different drugs. In contrast, the system created by Philip J. Kitson and colleagues yields a customized blueprint for drug synthesis using simple plastic modules that can easily be assembled on-site, at low cost.

First, software is used to identify the chemical reactions and processes that are necessary for the desired drug, and then the ideal chambers and components of the system are created using a cheap 3-D printer (that costs about $2,000).

In this study, the researchers chose to 3-D print the system using a type of plastic called polypropylene; they note that the system is less efficient than conventional glassware because reagents are more likely to adhere to the rough surface of the plastic, but that efficiency could be boosted by exploring other 3-D printed materials.

Kitson et al. tested the ability of the system to produce baclofen, a muscle relaxant, finding that they could use it to prepare the drug from readily available precursors in three simple steps. 

Full Article: http://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aao3466

Source: “Digitization of multistep organic synthesis in reactionware for on-demand pharmaceuticals,” by P.J. Kitson; G. Marie; J.-P. Francoia; S.S. Zalesskiy; R.C. Sigerson; J.S. Mathieson; L. Cronin at The University of Glasgow in Glasgow, UK.


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