It’s 2025, and there’s a strange machine sitting on your kitchen counter next to your toaster. Every morning, it pops out your daily prescription.
A new prototype shows exactly how future countertop drug manufacturing could work: A glowing cylinder brews blue-green algae, genetically engineered to produce pharmaceuticals. Then it measures, filters, and dries it into a powder that can fill a pill.
It’s only a concept at the moment, but the artist who created it thinks that it could be technically feasible in five or ten years. “Part of my goal of the project is to demonstrate how easy it is to build an at-home system that could ferment microbes,” says Will Patrick, who designed the Farma gadget during a residency at Autodesk.
It’s already possible to brew opiates in a lab. The anti-malarial drug Artemisinin is also mostly made using genetically engineered yeast. It’s not inconceivable to think that synthetic biology could also be used as a cheaper, faster way to make all kinds of other drugs—and potentially make them in unexpected places, like your kitchen.