Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unlocking the opium poppy's biggest secret

15.03.2010
University of Calgary researchers discover codeine and morphine genes

Researchers at the University of Calgary have discovered the unique genes that allow the opium poppy to make codeine and morphine, thus opening doors to alternate methods of producing these effective painkillers either by manufacturing them in a lab or controlling the production of these compounds in the plant.

"The enzymes encoded by these two genes have eluded plant biochemists for a half-century," says Peter Facchini, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who has dedicated his career to studying the unique properties of the opium poppy. "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."

The researchers' findings will be published in a paper entitled Dioxygenases catalyze the O-demethylation steps of morphine biosynthesis in opium poppy, appearing in the on-line edition of Nature Chemical Biology (http://www.nature.com/nchembio/index.html) on Sun., Mar. 14 at 2 pm ET / 6 pm London time.

Codeine is by far the most widely used opiate in the world and one of the most commonly used painkillers. Codeine can be extracted directly from the plant, most codeine is synthesized from the much more abundant morphine found in opium poppy. Codeine is converted by an enzyme in the liver to morphine, which is the active analgesic and a naturally occurring compound in humans. Canadians spend more than $100 million every year on codeine-containing pharmaceutical products and are among the world's top consumers of the drug per capita. Despite this, Canada imports all of its opiates from other countries.
... more about:
»Calgary »codeine »enzymes »genetic power

"With this discovery, we can potentially create plants that will stop production at codeine. We are also working toward the synthesis of codeine and other opiate drugs more efficiently and economically in controlled bioprocessing facilities," says Facchini. "Our discovery now makes it possible to use microorganisms to produce opiate drugs and other important pharmaceuticals." One of the next steps for the research team is using the codeine gene to produce pharmaceuticals in yeast or bacteria.

Jillian Hagel, a post-doctoral scientist in Facchini's lab, was assigned the task of finding these key genes as part of her Ph.D. research. She succeeded 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.

"That was an exciting day," Hagel says of her moment of discovery. "We have found the missing pieces that were needed to understand how the opium poppy makes morphine."

Facchini adds: "The evolution of these two genes in a single plant species has had such a huge impact on humanity over the past several thousand years. Our discovery allows this unique genetic power to be harnessed in many important ways."

Leanne Yohemas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucalgary.ca

Further reports about: Calgary codeine enzymes genetic power

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>