No one can say that Professor Lee Cronin, leader of a team of 45 researchers at Glasgow University, lacks ambition. According to a recent article from UK-based The Guardian, Cronin wants to create downloadable chemistry, with the ultimate aim of allowing people to "print" their own pharmaceuticals at home.
The article also quoted him with this driven statement: ". . . what Apple did for music, I'd like to do for the discovery and distribution of prescription drugs."
Cronin's prototype allows a printer to inject system reactants, or "chemical inks", to create sequenced reactions.
The article outlines the many uses for Cronin's dream, including the ability to distribute drugs anywhere in the world. This means that underserved, underprivileged populations can access cost-effective medicine and counterfeiters would be foiled at their own game. On the flip side, the article author was thinking the same thing I was: What about using this technology for evil?
As a scientist, Cronin tends to play down the potential legal and practical obstacles that will no doubt challenge the idea – "I don't imagine gangsters printing their own drugs, no" he says to one question – and sees only benefits.
With great discovery comes great risk. Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks in this case?
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Senior Digital Editor