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.

Codeine Sulphate Empty Glass Gallon Medicine Bottle Schieffelin Pharmacy Antique picture

Codeine Sulphate Empty Glass Gallon Medicine Bottle Schieffelin Pharmacy Antique

$280.00



22 1950s PHARMACY Drug POISON Medicine Label Vintage CODEINE Muriatic HASTINGS picture

22 1950s PHARMACY Drug POISON Medicine Label Vintage CODEINE Muriatic HASTINGS

$14.00



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

$25.79



Vtg Empty Tylenol Codeine McNeil Pharmaceutical Red & Clear Plastic Box Promo picture

Vtg Empty Tylenol Codeine McNeil Pharmaceutical Red & Clear Plastic Box Promo

$19.99



Vintage Elix Terpin Hydrate &Codeine N.F. Medicine Bottle 4” tall picture

Vintage Elix Terpin Hydrate &Codeine N.F. Medicine Bottle 4” tall

$19.99



Rx Pharmacy Tylenol with Codeine Paper Clip Holder Tablet Pill Bottle Vintage picture

Rx Pharmacy Tylenol with Codeine Paper Clip Holder Tablet Pill Bottle Vintage

$80.00



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

Brontex Codeine Sched 3 Pharmaceutical Advertising Glass Apothecary Jar Drug Rep

$29.50



BUFFERIN CODEINE Pharmaceutical Drug Rep Pen Vintage Retro Rare picture

BUFFERIN CODEINE Pharmaceutical Drug Rep Pen Vintage Retro Rare

$11.50



Vtg Lot of 4 Empirin Codeine

Vtg Lot of 4 Empirin Codeine "Hit Hard Hit Fast" Pharmaceutical Button/Pinback

$129.95



CHERACOL WITH CODEINE AND CHLOROFORM THE UPJOHN COMPANY EMPTY w ORIGINAL LABEL picture

CHERACOL WITH CODEINE AND CHLOROFORM THE UPJOHN COMPANY EMPTY w ORIGINAL LABEL

$74.99



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes