Vaccines Could Be Emailed and Printed at Home
Researchers have created a way to get DNA to store one bit of data. The DNA bits are also rewriteable.
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In the future, people could make and give themselves their annual flu shots at home. One team of scientists is trying to develop digitized vaccines people could download on their home computers. People would then print out the vaccine on a biological 3D printer, the scientists say.
"Imagine being able to download a vaccine or your medicine on your computer at home," geneticist J. Craig Venter told The Atlantic. "That's the not-to-distant future, and it wipes out the possibility of an epidemic."
Speaking at the Wired Health Conference in New York City, Venter, who is best known for helping sequence the human genome, said his team of scientists is already testing out a version of a "biological teleporter."
Venter described the device as a "3D printer for DNA, a 3D printer for life" that can string together DNA bases, or “letters,” based on a digital blueprint, according to WIRED.
Venter conceded that aside from the technical difficulties, there will be regulatory hurdles to overcome and safety concerns to consider if printable vaccines are to ever become a reality. “We get a lot of spam e-mail," Venter said. "People making fake drugs and selling them for profit. It’s a nasty world out there."
At the same conference, Venter said he is also working on developing a biological teleporter that could be sent to Mars to look for Martian DNA and beam the sequence back to Earth for reassembly.