Think of this machine as a mash-up of Lego and 3D printing that assembles molecules needed to make drugs. This revolutionary chemistry kit is the brainchild of Martin Burke at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his team.
Making the small molecules needed to produce drugs is tricky since they are not only small but incredibly complex. Synthesising them in a lab takes time because the starting materials for each type of molecule have to run through a unique set of chemical reactions.
Burke and his colleagues have simplified the approach by figuring out how to break down complex molecules into their building blocks. Using these modules as raw material, the machine uses a standard chemical reaction to snap them together like Lego bricks and construct a molecule.
It should soon be possible to download instructions for a particular molecule from the internet, allowing researchers to 3D print it themselves. In addition to making molecules needed for medicine, the machine can also make small molecules used in LEDs and solar panels. … (read more)