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What is a Biopothecary?
An Apothecary was a vendor or producer of medicines in historic times, and may have provided general advise on medical or health-related topics in addition to dispensing remedies or treatments. Although Apothecaries are now deprecated and replaced by a more interdependent system of medicine, the concept of a local community-oriented dispensary for what would be now regarded as advanced products appeals to the resilient aesthetic.
In this vein, the word "Biopothecary" may denote a local workshop, laboratory or production facility for biology-centric things. A biopothecary might be literally an apothecary for communities without a more advanced medical establishment, where the operators of the establishment produce and sell/distribute treatments that are produced in-house via carefully cultivated strains of micro-organisms or by evidence-based processing of wild species. Indeed, the biopothecary might be specifically tailored to investigation of natural remedies to establish which are efficacious and which are not.
If the production of medicines and nutritional supplements is performed in-house by mutated or genetically modified bacteria, yeasts or co-cultures of both (Kombucha, for example), the cultures that constitute a biopothecary can be transferable with minimal training, allowing more time to train appropriate use of the resulting products than their production. As a great variety of remedies could be produced via the same methods and procedures using transgenic bacteria, specialised infrastructures are no longer required for highly effective, evidence based therapies.
It is therefore foreseeable that local production of antibiotics, antihelmenthics, antivirals, chemotherapies and other essential lifesaving medicines could be decentralised and disseminated throughout the world by borrowing from an older method of dispensing medication; the Apothecary.
Immediate Potential Treatments
Certain medicines are already produced by bacterial fermentation and could likely be established with little difficulty as standardised cultures for local production (see Biotech Cultures).
Production of antibiotics tends to follow a long biosynthetic route, implying many enzymes and therefore a large upfront cost of gene synthesis is the desired route of initial production. However, once a producing strain is created, it can be propagated virtually for free to produce as much antibiotic as needed.
- Tetracyclines are produced by biosynthesis by Streptomyces species. The biosynthesis of Tetracyclines is now pretty well understood and should be transferable to other species.
- Penicillins are normally produced by fungi but should be transferable to bacteria as the precursors are merely amino acids and citric-acid-cycle intermediates which should be present in any living cell.
For treatment of worms and flukes, which can permanently cripple or even kill their hosts, a variety of natural treatments are used worldwide. However, natural treatments may be either ineffective or require specialised knowledge to make use of. Standardised production of antihelminthics, particlarly as combination treatments, could be performed by fermentation of microbes as needed. Indeed, many effective remedies are ultimately derived from microbes already. Many of these treatments may also be applied as insecticides where appropriate (broad spectrum use for agriculture is likely to have side-effects, but food preservation may be a use-case for some of the safer insecticides presented below). Abamectin is produced by fermentation of Streptomyces, and could be transferred to a laboratory strain such as B.subtilis. It is used as an insecticide as well as an antihelminthic. Allyl isothiocyanate, the chemical responsible for the flavour of mustard and wasabi, can be used as an antihelminthic and could be produced by bacteria at probably greater effective amounts than plants (as it is damaging to the plant to produce, though probably not to bacteria). However, it is potentially toxic if misapplied.