Martin D Burke and his team from the University of Illinois have studied and synthesized small molecules with protein-like structures for quite some time. These molecules are in fact the basis of the human body’s regulation of biological processes and even make up for the majority of drugs taken by us.
This week, Sciencemag.org reported that Dr Burke and his team developed a 3d printer for chemicals which could simplify the very complex process of chemical synthesis and the creation molecules.
The “3d printer for chemicals” can break down complex molecules to its basic chemical building blocks. The machine is able to identify and analyse each and every different blocks of the molecules which allows the machine break down the complicated structure of the molecules.
The machine is then able to connect all the chemical blocks together one by one, while releasing the unwanted byproducts simultaneously to manage over 200 chemical building blocks. The ability of the machine to manage these blocks enables it to control thousands of molecules, thus making it possible for the machine to print billions of organic compounds.
Dr Burke on behalf of his team stated that “The vision for the future is that anyone who needs a specific small molecule can essentially print it out from their computer. We are really excited about the immediate impacts that this will have on drug discovery.”
The “3d printer of chemicals” is currently licensed by REVOLUTION medicines, inc. The company is investing on the machine as they believe that this technology could significantly boost the speed of production of drugs.