Researchers Claim They Found Method to Make Morphine without Growing Opium Poppies
An international team of researchers on Monday reported that they have found the process to make morphine and similar painkillers without growing opium poppies.
The team during their study engineered brewer’s yeast to synthesize opioids such as codeine and morphine from a common sugar.
Christopher Voight of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the research, told that the new findings will make it possible to home-brew opiates in the near future.
The process published on Monday in Nature Chemical Biology is inefficient and requires 30 litres of genetically engineered yeast to produce singe 30 milligram dose of morphine.
But he said some improvement to the process will help obtain the results from a glass of yeast culture grown with sugar on a window sill.
Experts stated that for decades, morphine and other opioids have been the widely used for pain relief. But due to their complex molecular structure they are isolated or manufactured from compounds in plants, such as opium poppies. So far scientists were never able to produce hem from off-the-shelf components, they said.
But team led by John Dueber of the University of California, Berkeley, accomplished this task.
The tam after isolated a crucial enzyme from sugar beets, mutated its gene to make it more productive, and slipped it into yeast. After doing this they added more foreign DNA, which helped them to achieve their goal.
Outside scientists said although additional DNA tweaks can produce yeast that synthesize cheaper, less addictive, and more effective pain-killers, but the creation of morphine-making yeast could dramatically increase access to illegal opiates, which has become addiction in any communities.
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