Making malaria drugs in the jungle? Paracetamol on Mars? Being able to produce medicines cheaply and everywhere, with sunlight as an energy source might become a reality very soon. Chemists from the Eindhoven University of Technology are presenting a “mini-reactor” that, similar to leaves in nature, absorbs sunlight and drives chemical reactions. As an ultimate demonstration, they succeeded in having the reactor actually produce two types of medicine, the antimalarial artemisinin and the antiparasitic drug ascaridole. In the magazine Angewandte Chemie, they describe how this reactor can be easily scaled up, can be used for a wide range of chemical reactions and maintains stable production under changing weather conditions. The technology, which has the potential to strongly green the pharmaceutical industry, therefore seems ready for commercial upscaling.
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