Three Dimensional Printing (3DP) - defined by ISO as “fabrication of objects through the deposition of a material using a print head, nozzle, or another printer technology” - is an emerging component of Medicinal Chemistry (MC). Space provides a challenging environment where 3DP and MC can offer great services while expanding their borders, with regard to pharmaceutical design and tissue engineering.
The purpose of this presentation is twofold. We first present an overview of existing and emerging applications of the 3DP - MC intersection in Space and we then discuss some debatable aspects from a legal point of view.
This is a literature study. We searched biomedical (Pubmed, Google Scholar) and tech – oriented (InTech) databases with key words (3D Printing, Medicinal Chemistry, Space). Moreover we searched the official websites and depositories of national or international Space Agencies.
3DP equipment has recently been installed in the International Space Station marking a revolution in Space Research. 3DP in Space has been a synonym to Additive Manufacturing (AM). Astronauts will soon be able to print medication, instead of receiving it from Earth, or even grow tissues such as skin grafts in case of injuries. Clinical trials or pharmaceutical design experiments may be also carried out in microgravity environment. Last but not least, 3DP mediated MC research in Space investigate the recycling of previously used materials or even debris in pharmaceutical design and bioengineering.
In the future 3DP is expected to play a crucial role in Space Exploration. Long term missions or even colonization of the Moon or Mars will not be possible unless the astronauts are able to produce medication, experimental kits and biomaterials among others on their own. The repercussions of such a 3DP - MC coalition are also expected to have an impact on Earth. Remote healthcare facilities, single laboratories and pharmacists and potentially any trained individual will be able to produce medication and biomaterials. Such a potential hides a considerable amount of controversy. Liability and safety issues, patent obtaining procedures and transferability of Space 3DP - MC research findings to Earth consist of emerging concepts in the field of Space Jurisdiction.