London: Scientists have identified a key gene used by poppies to make morphine, paving the way for better methods of producing the medically important drug, potentially without the need for cultivating poppy fields.
The latest finding follows recent success in engineering brewer`s yeast to synthesise opiates such as morphine and codeine from a common sugar, boosting the prospect of “home-brew” drug supply.
But whether making morphine in bubbling vats of yeast will be commercially viable — either for drug companies or criminal gangs — is far from certain, since poppies are very efficient natural factories.
“Poppies are not going to be displaced overnight by any stretch of the imagination,” said Ian Graham, a professor at the University of York, who worked on the latest gene discovery.
While extracting opiates from genetically engineered yeast is now a real possibility, he sees more immediate benefits from applying the latest knowledge to developing better poppy plants.
“Having our hands on this gene allows us to develop molecular breeding approaches to creating bespoke poppy varieties that make different compounds,” he stated.
That could lead to agricultural production of drugs such as noscapine, a cough-suppressant that may also fight cancer, as well as improved plant strains with higher yields of morphine.
The University of York team worked on the project with scientists from GlaxoSmithKline . The drugmaker has long been a major supplier of opiates but agreed in March to sell its Australian-based business to India`s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries .
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Sign me up for the newsletter!
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL NAMED AS A KINCENTRIC BEST EMPLOYER IN ASIA PACIFIC FOR SIXTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR
Celebrate this Sunday with a family brunch at 3 Spices, DoubleTree by Hilton Pune-Chinchwad.
Atlas Copco unveils next generation portable air compressors at Excon 2019 in Bengaluru
Indian Railways to invest over ₹ 10 lakh crore on various projects in the next 5 years
Emission-free, efficient and safe: The future urban construction site
2014 The Global Indian New Network (TGINN)