PerspectiveChemical Synthesis

Going with the flow

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Science  01 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6281, pp. 44-45
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3065

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Imagine it is the middle of the night. A severe snow storm has hit the region, and your 3-year-old's fever is rising. You suspect a serious infection and cannot wait until the next morning to go to the pharmacy, yet the roads are impassable. No problem—you were recently granted access to a prototype machine no larger than a kitchen microwave that allows the user to synthesize their pharmaceutical of choice. You start up a smartphone app that has access to the family medical history and other relevant parameters, such as allergies and body weight. A few minutes later, you have consulted an emergency pediatrician through the app, inserted the relevant capsule, and pressed the start button. After a short wait, a single, personalized dose of the necessary antibiotic is ready for use. All this may sound like science fiction, but the report by Adamo et al. on page 61 of this issue (1) proves that this scenario might become reality in the not-too-distant future.