J. Craig Venter explores printable vaccines

Geneticist J. Craig Venter's vision for the future of vaccines may seem a little surreal: Making available downloadable software that allows people to print a vaccine and inject it at home.

Venter and his team of scientists are already testing a version of the digital biological converter, a concept dubbed biological teleportation, Wired reports. Such a technique would offer people the benefit of speed; a digitized vaccine can be emailed around the world.

"Imagine being able to download a vaccine or your medicine on your computer at home," Venter said, as quoted by The Atlantic. "That's the not-too-distant future, and it wipes out the possibility of an epidemic."

Such a technique comes with caveats, of course. Scientists and engineers would need to diligently ensure that small tweaks don't occur--changes that can make a printed protein function in a different way than intended. And regulation plays a major role, too. Given the amount of fake drugs and spam email making their way around, regulators will likely be wary of the security risks involved in people potentially downloading, printing and injecting a retrovirus.

Still, the concept is intriguing. Scientists have already experimented with printing blood vessels and organs. Venter said progress will come from privately supported research.

- see Wired's take
- get more from The Atlantic

Special Report: J. Craig Venter - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today

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