The Strategist

Now Morphine Can Be Created Without Poppies


05/31/2015 - 16:11



A new research publication has brought forth the last important steps of the seven year long ongoing research project attempting to turn sugar into morphine.



Thestrategist.media, New York – 27 May 2015 – Donald G. McNeil Jr. reports in “New York Times News Service” about new research development on the genetic- frontiers whereby Morphine will be available without poppies.
 
Worldwide the colourful happy heads of poppies, heavy with the weight of their opiate seeds, dandle gracefully “in sprightly dance”. The long and slim leg-like stalks of poppies are adorned with either orange or white ‘petal-costumes’ whereby the coquette fashion fiesta culminates with their wig like pollen-laden stamens to create perfect floral beauty icons.  
 
Beauty is often intoxicating; similarly the poppies growing over “millions of acres” in various countries like Myanmar, Afghanistan and Laos among others, have been priced possession of the respective countries, as “the milky opium juice carefully scraped off the seed pods” of these flowers are used to create morphine, being:
“...an excellent painkiller (which is) easily refined into heroin.”
 
However, as per “New York Times News Service”, in the near future “the poppy will no longer be the only way to produce heroin’s raw ingredient”. Donald G. McNeil Jr. writes that a variety of genetically modified yeast will be able “turn sugar into morphine” just by brewing. For last seven years the said project was being carried out whereby the “essential steps” were determined; however a final one to succeed in the mission that was “missing” has been published in “Nature Chemical Biology” journal.
 
An engineering and political science professor of MIT, Kenneth Oye, says:
“All the elements are in place, but the whole pathway needs to be integrated before a one-pot glucose-to-morphine stream is ready to roll”.
 
Currently, various debates are being held on this rapidly progressing field of “synthetic biology” wherein experts like Oye commented that “drug-regulatory authorities” aren’t yet prepared yet to curb the benefits included in the process for the heroin traders as oppose to the prescribed “pain killer industry”.
 
Moreover, experts argue that the entire world should take action in order to optimise the research results. And to do so, the bio-engineered strains of yeast should be kept under controlled environment, whereby the DNA capable of reproducing the drug cartels will remain under restricted access.
 
In fact, some experts are of the opinion that restricted access to the DNA strains will “stifle” the on-going research work. Although, “Drug Enforcement Administration” cannot perceive any “imminent threat” as the said strains are not commonly available.  However, scientists haven’t revealed any such strain “capable of the entire sugar-to-morphine pathway”.
 
Christina Smolke, the leader at Stanford lab, believe that for the home brewer to duplicate the process of producing heroine from the manipulated yeasts would not be a child’s play as it requires “a really special skill”. Nevertheless, the book, Biology Is Technology’s author, Robert Carlson is of the opinion that:
“DNA synthesis is already a democratic, low-cost technology. If you restrict access, you create a black market.”
 
The considered, the though last yet important, missing steps comprise of a method to efficiently “grow a morphine precursor”, namely the “(S)-reticuline”, while brewing the yeast has now been published. In fact, scientists believe that the precursor, “trying to make morphine”, could be transformed into cancer drugs or other antibiotics. 





References:
http://www.bendbulletin.com/nation/3174807-151/morphine-without-the-poppy#





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