Narcotic drugs could soon be manufactured by yeast
Synthetic biology—the technique of moving genes from creature to creature not one at a time, but by the handful—promises much but has yet to deliver. Someone who believes it can, though, is Christina Smolke of Stanford University. And, as she and her colleagues write in Nature Chemical Biology, they think they now know one way that it might.
Opiates, such as morphine, are widely used as painkillers. Some are extracted directly from opium poppies (paler, as the picture shows, than the sort familiar in Europe and North America), which grow well in places such as Afghanistan and Turkey. Others, such as oxycodone, are chemically derived from natural poppy-molecules. Many of these drugs, though, are also used for recreational purposes—particularly diamorphine, an acetylated version of the principal poppy extract that was branded “Heroin” by its manufacturer, Bayer, in the late 19th century. Since such recreational use is generally illegal, the authorities keep a strict eye on the opium trade, and would no doubt welcome the chance to make that eye even stricter by cutting poppies out of the loop and making diamorphine and its cousins from scratch in facilities they can watch. That, plus the possibility the drugs might be produced more cheaply, has encouraged Dr Smolke to use synthetic biology to see if she can create an alternative source for opiates.
To do so, her team added three crucial poppy genes to some yeast cells. When provided with the appropriate chemical precursor, the modified yeast cranked out morphine and another opiate, codeine. And when one of the poppy genes was itself replaced by two genes from Pseudomonas putida, a soil bacterium, the yeast made oxycodone and hydrocodone too. Though this prototype yeast was not particularly efficient, some further tweaking converted it into a veritable drug factory—capable of cooking up 131mg of opioids (the equivalent of about 26 medical doses of diamorphine) per litre of culture over a four-day manufacturing cycle.
The Latest on: Synthetic biology
via Google News
The Latest on: Synthetic biology
- Nanotechnology in Medicineon June 11, 2021 at 12:10 pm
Third member of FDA expert committee resigns over controversial Alzheimer’s therapy decision U.S. health officials report higher-than-expected heart inflammation cases following… U.S. health officials ...
- Understanding synthetic biology, featuring 10 companies to watchon June 11, 2021 at 12:09 pm
Scientists look to the past to see the future Comparing the Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and… Comparing the Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson The ...
- Synthetic Biology Market 2021 Research Report Analysis and Key Vendors – Genscript Biotech Genewiz Agilenton June 11, 2021 at 7:07 am
The Synthetic Biology Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.92% and is poised to reach US$XX Billion by 2027 as compared to US$XX Billion in 2020. The factors leading to this extraordinary growth ...
- Barron'son June 10, 2021 at 10:00 am
Wall Street is catching on to the huge promise of firms that can use the raw materials of life to create useful products.
- David Stevenson: Why Baillie Gifford and ARK are all over ‘synthetic biology’on June 10, 2021 at 4:00 am
Gene editing is no longer the realm of science fiction and our columnist argues we are fast approaching a 'tipping point' for investors.
- Beyond synthetic biology, synthetic ecology boosts health by engineering the environmenton June 4, 2021 at 2:17 pm
There's a lot of interest right now in how different microbiomes—like the one made up of all the bacteria in our guts—could be harnessed to boost human health and cure disease. But Daniel Segrè has ...
- Beyond synthetic biology, synthetic ecology boosts health by engineering environmenton June 4, 2021 at 10:50 am
There's a lot of interest right now in how different microbiomes--like the one made up of all the bacteria in our guts--could be harnessed to boost ...
- Moving beyond Synthetic Biology, "Synthetic Ecology" Seeks to Boost Health by Engineering the Environment (image)on June 4, 2021 at 9:30 am
In a new Nature Communications study, researchers from BU's Microbiome Initiative discovered that providing microbial communities with a broader variety of food sources didn't increase the variety of ...
- Engineering the Future of Synthetic DNAon June 2, 2021 at 10:14 am
In this GEN webinar, Dr. Marc Brehme will introduce us to Ribbon Biolabs’ innovative platform for the automated synthesis of long DNA molecules and will showcase the relevance of precise, loss-less ...
- Next Generation Sequencing: The analysis of synthetic biology signatures in brain tissueon June 2, 2021 at 4:15 am
Richie Kohman, Wyss Institute at Harvard, tells us all about Next Generation Sequencing in analysing synthetic biology signatures in brain tissue ...
via Bing News