Opium poppy gives up its genetic secrets

Codeine, usually synthesized from the morphine found in the opium poppy, is one of the world’s most commonly prescribed painkillers. But despite its widespread use, poppies are only grown as a commercial crop in a handful of countries, thus making many nations dependent on opiate imports.

Now, however, researchers at the University of Calgary have discovered the unique genes that allow the opium poppy to produce painkillers such as codeine and morphine. This, say the research team, will open the door to alternate methods of producing painkillers, possibly even by manufacturing them in a lab using micro-organisms.

“The enzymes encoded by these two genes have eluded plant biochemists for a half-century,” says researcher Peter Facchini. “In finding not only the enzymes but also the genes, we’ve made a major step forward. It’s equivalent in finding a gene involved in cancer or other genetic disorders.”

Researcher Jillian Hagel (pictured) did the hard yards of finding these key genes as part of her Ph.D. research. She succeeded by using leading-edge genomics techniques that helped her sort through up to 23,000 different genes and ultimately find a gene called codeine O-dementhylase (CODM) that produces the plant enzyme converting codeine into morphine.

The research, appearing in Nature Chemical Biology, will allow scientists to synthesize codeine and other opiate drugs more efficiently and economically in controlled bioprocessing facilities. “Our discovery now makes it possible to use microorganisms to produce opiate drugs and other important pharmaceuticals,” said Facchini. Hagel added that one of the next steps for the research team is using the codeine gene to produce pharmaceuticals in yeast or bacteria.

Related:
GM Bacteria Making Plastics
Folk-medicine herbal alkaloid synthesized
Bio-Engineered Yeast Cranks Out Pharmaceuticals

Source: University of Calgary

, ,

Comments are closed.

Vintage Cheracol Chloroform & Codeine Phosphate Amber Medicine Bottle Upjohn Co picture

Vintage Cheracol Chloroform & Codeine Phosphate Amber Medicine Bottle Upjohn Co

$21.33



NOVAHISTINE CODEINE Pharmaceutical Drug Rep Pen Vintage Retro Rare picture

NOVAHISTINE CODEINE Pharmaceutical Drug Rep Pen Vintage Retro Rare

$11.50



Vintage Parke Davis Cosadein Codeine  Amber Pharmacy Bottle , EMPTY picture

Vintage Parke Davis Cosadein Codeine Amber Pharmacy Bottle , EMPTY

$58.00



Vintage Upjohn Company Cheracol Cough Medicine Bottle.  Codeine and Chloroform picture

Vintage Upjohn Company Cheracol Cough Medicine Bottle. Codeine and Chloroform

$14.95



Vintage Upjohn Company Cheracol Cough Medicine Bottle.  Codeine and Chloroform picture

Vintage Upjohn Company Cheracol Cough Medicine Bottle. Codeine and Chloroform

$19.95



1930's Vintage Elixir 235 COPAVIN Empty Bottle Narcotic Codeine Lilly picture

1930's Vintage Elixir 235 COPAVIN Empty Bottle Narcotic Codeine Lilly

$24.95



UPJOHN sample CODEINE and CHLOROFORM Cough Syrup ADVERTISING bottle PRISTINE picture

UPJOHN sample CODEINE and CHLOROFORM Cough Syrup ADVERTISING bottle PRISTINE

$59.99



Brontex Codeine Sched 3 Pharmaceutical Advertising Glass Apothecary Jar Drug Rep picture

Brontex Codeine Sched 3 Pharmaceutical Advertising Glass Apothecary Jar Drug Rep

$23.80



Codeine Sulphate Empty Glass Gallon Medicine Bottle Schieffelin Pharmacy Antique picture

Codeine Sulphate Empty Glass Gallon Medicine Bottle Schieffelin Pharmacy Antique

$245.00



CODEINE Hit Hard Fast EMPIRIN Pharmaceutical Pharma Drug Rep BUTTON Pin Vintage  picture

CODEINE Hit Hard Fast EMPIRIN Pharmaceutical Pharma Drug Rep BUTTON Pin Vintage

$33.74



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes