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Researchers Produce Opioid Pain Killer From Genetically Modified Yeast With Opium Pop
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Researchers Produce Opioid Pain Killer From Genetically Modified Yeast With Opium Poppy Genes

The natural world has long been a source of useful compounds. Aspirin, quinine and morphine all have beneficial therapeutic properties and are often found in plants. Being able to identify, extract and synthesise biologically active ingredients can lead to larger, cheaper amounts being produced.

For compounds with relatively simple chemical structures, such as aspirin, this is straightforward. Others with more complex structures such as opioids – the family of medicines that includes morphine and codeine – it’s extremely difficult.

The complexity of opioids means their active compounds are still sourced from the opium poppy. But now researchers at Stanford have cleverly used genetically modified baker’s yeast to convert sugar into an opioid called hydrocodone. In a study published in Science, a second strain also produced thebaine, a precursor to other opioids.

In nature, the opium poppy has enzymes that are able to synthesise complex molecule structures in a cell. By reprogramming their genetic machinery, the researchers were able to mimic this process in yeast cells, with the added advantage that it also speeded up the process. While production using plans could take up to a year from farm to factory, the Stanford researchers claim a speed of three to five days. Although still in very minute amounts, their proof of concept has the potential for a much wider impact in synthesising other structurally complicated molecules.

Finding active compounds

Biologically active compounds are produced by living organisms in tiny amounts as part of their normal life; that they may have a beneficial effect on us is a side effect but one we have exploited through the ages. The challenge for the chemist is not only to isolate these useful compounds but to obtain a useful amount.

A single plant, for example, only makes microgram quantities of a bioactive compound either because the effect of the molecule on the plant is so potent that a small amount is required by the plant or because it’s a byproduct that the plant doesn’t need. For example a Pacific yew tree only produces minute amounts of taxol, thought to play an antifungal role in protecting the tree. However, for us, taxol has been shown to treat a range of cancers. To obtain enough taxol to produce a dose to treat cancer in us would require several hundred yew trees. So once the compound has been isolated and its structure determined, more of it can be synthesised in the laboratory.

Creating a chemical factory

Many biologically active compounds are the result of a complex series of reactions occurring within cells and driven by nature’s own chemical reagents – enzymes. These naturally occurring proteins are produced within cells encoded by their DNA and allow quite lengthy and complex biosynthesis to be carried out and allows a cell to synthesise complex compounds such as opioids efficiently.

In the lab it can involve as many as 20 or 30 chemical reactions each with a separation and purification step to replicate this – so you can see why it is so hard to scale up to produce useful, cheaper amounts of the compound.

The ability of enzymes to carry out chemical reactions with high degrees of selectivity and efficiency have made them useful chemical tools. This efficiency comes at a price though as, outside their cell the reactivity of enzymes can be drastically reduced. It is much better to keep them inside the cell. The trouble is that no single organism will have all the enzymes you need to carry out a lengthy chemical synthesis.

more at:

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-med...pium-poppy
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#2
Bread and circuses could have a whole new dimension don't you think?
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#3
(10-18-2015, 12:36 AM)new() Wrote: Bread and circuses could have a whole new dimension don't you think?

Yeah3
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#4
(10-18-2015, 12:51 AM)ChillBro Swaggins Wrote:
(10-18-2015, 12:36 AM)new() Wrote: Bread and circuses could have a whole new dimension don't you think?

Yeah3

Some interpretations of Revelation say that the whole world was deceived by Babylon's drugs.. Could be it I think...
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