Craig Venter imagines a world with printable life forms

October 18, 2012

Bioprinter (credit: Organovo)

Craig Venter imagines a future where you can download software, print a vaccine, inject it, and presto! Contagion averted.

“It’s a 3-D printer for DNA, a 3-D printer for life,” Venter said at the inaugural Wired Health Conference in New York City, Wired Science reports.

The geneticist and his team of scientists are already testing out a version of his digital biological converter, or “teleporter.”

Why should you care? Well, because the machine has “really good anti-viral software,” he quipped.

His team is working through scenarios where they have less than 24 hours to make a new vaccine with this gadget.

He recalled working with Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. They couldn’t get the virus out of the metropolis because authorities wouldn’t allow it, he said. That delayed efforts to stem the spread of the virus, and thousands of people died.

Had they been able to digitize it, they could have e-mailed it, and “it could have gone around the world digitally,” allowing researchers to study it and to build a vaccine more quickly, Venter said. …


An ear made of silicone using a 3D bio-printer (Cornell University)