Using brewers yeast to make morphine

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Feldon

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Brewers, its time to dust off the petri dishes.

Some researchers have just discovered a biological pathway whereby Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) can produce opiates such as morphine, codine etc.

Discovery sparks 'home-brew drugs' concern

Scientists have unlocked a pathway for producing opiates from genetically-engineered yeast, but fear the discovery could one day be a bonanza for criminals.

The team of US and Canadian scientists are calling on lawmakers to regulate the area of research to avoid abuse.
Other experts agree, saying anyone with basic skills could use such a yeast to churn out morphine, codeine and drugs using a simple home-brew beer kit.

The discovery, published in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology, comes on the heels of a study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE.

Together, the papers describe the 15 key steps towards bio-engineering yeast that would feed on sugar and exude opiates and other therapeutic drugs.

The goal is to provide cheaper and possibly less addictive painkillers from a dependable source, as compared to the poppy.
For centuries, morphine and other opioids have been the go-to drugs for pain relief. But their molecular structure is so complex, they are isolated or manufactured from compounds in plants. Chemists have never been able to produce them from off-the-shelf components.

The team of synthetic biologists inserted an enzyme gene from beets to coax yeast into converting tyrosine -- an amino acid easily derived from sugar -- into a compound called reticuline.

Reticuline is a molecular "hub", meaning it is the springboard for making morphine, codeine and oxycodone, as well as anti-spasmodic drugs like papaverine.

The team did not go on to make these drugs, but the process of going from reticuline to codeine and morphine in yeast is already known. What had been missing in the knowledge chain was getting from tyrosine to reticuline.
The discovery may be a boon in pharmaceutics, but it also "dramatically speeds up the clock for when home-brewing drugs could become a reality," the researchers caution.

"We're likely looking at a timeline of a couple of years, not a decade or more, when sugar-fed yeast could reliably produce a controlled substance," says the study's co-author John Dueber of the University of California, Berkeley.

more at http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/05/19/4238279.htm
and http://www.nature.com/news/drugs-regulate-home-brew-opiates-1.17563

Now, what aroma hops to use on a morphine lager?

yeast.jpg
 

droid

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morphine lager...i love it!

might go for the morphed mosaic apa myself
 

Airgead

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Hummmmm.... first get your generically engineered yeast. Not sure that's in the wyeast catalogue just yet. Certainly not something you could whip up at home. Not something that is likely to be in the LHBS anytime, ever. Engineered bacteria for producing other drugs have been around for decades. Not hearing a lot aboit a thriving black market in bugs.

Other questions to ask - what are the concentrations? Most biopharma things like this produce very small concentrations by volume. They need a lot of yeast to produce a reasonable quantity of substance. Then you need to extract, concentrate and purify. They grow this stuff on 100000l fermenters to get commercial quantities (things like insulin and clotting factors are grown this way now using ecoli). Not sure your 30l home fermenter would produce enough to have much of an effect.

Can anyone else smell a beat up?

Edit -

Ahh here we are -

The process described in the study is inefficient, requiring 300 litres of genetically engineered yeast to produce a single 30 milligram dose of morphine.
Then back to the beat up -
But with improvements that are well within reach, that dose could be obtained from "a glass of yeast culture grown with sugar on a windowsill," says Voight.
Pfffft.
 

Vini2ton

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Dangerous. Could get the nods and drown in your second pint.
 

siege

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Airgead said:
Can anyone else smell a beat up?
Scientists: Quick! everyone needs to give us lots of grant money so we can get this to market before the home brewers beat us to it!

Homebrewers: ...um, beer?
 

Feldon

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Airgead said:
Hummmmm.... first get your generically engineered yeast. Not sure that's in the wyeast catalogue just yet. Certainly not something you could whip up at home. Not something that is likely to be in the LHBS anytime, ever. Engineered bacteria for producing other drugs have been around for decades. Not hearing a lot aboit a thriving black market in bugs.

Other questions to ask - what are the concentrations? Most biopharma things like this produce very small concentrations by volume. They need a lot of yeast to produce a reasonable quantity of substance. Then you need to extract, concentrate and purify. They grow this stuff on 100000l fermenters to get commercial quantities (things like insulin and clotting factors are grown this way now using ecoli). Not sure your 30l home fermenter would produce enough to have much of an effect.

Can anyone else smell a beat up?

Edit -

Ahh here we are -


Then back to the beat up -
Pfffft.
The article in Nature linked in the OP says:

In principle, anyone with access to the yeast strain and basic skills in fermentation would be able to grow morphine-producing yeast using a home-brew kit for beer-making. If the modified yeast strain produced 10 grams of morphine, users would need to drink only 1–2 millilitres of the liquid to obtain a standard prescribed dose. (Current strains are not this efficient, but titres in this range and even tenfold higher have been achieved for other commercially relevant metabolic products.)
 

Airgead

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Feldon said:
The article in Nature linked in the OP says:

In principle, anyone with access to the yeast strain and basic skills in fermentation would be able to grow morphine-producing yeast using a home-brew kit for beer-making. If the modified yeast strain produced 10 grams of morphine, users would need to drink only 1–2 millilitres of the liquid to obtain a standard prescribed dose. (Current strains are not this efficient, but titres in this range and even tenfold higher have been achieved for other commercially relevant metabolic products.)
Key word there is if... if it produced 10g. At the moment at 30l fermenter would produce 3mg. So you would need to drink 300l to get a 30mg dose. To get up to the 10g range in a 30l fermenter we would need an efficiency uplift of around 40000 times. That's a lot.

OK... other commercially significant pathways have higher yields. Are they biologically related? Can we extrapolate from say an insulin pathway in ecoli to a morphine pathway in yeast? Just because other pathways are efficient it doesn't mean this one will be efficient as well.

And, to do this... first get your sample of genetically modified yeast.

Pffft I say.
 

JDW81

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Airgead said:
Key word there is if... if it produced 10g. At the moment at 30l fermenter would produce 3mg. So you would need to drink 300l to get a 30mg dose. To get up to the 10g range in a 30l fermenter we would need an efficiency uplift of around 40000 times. That's a lot.
And given that the oral bioavailability of morphine is about 1/3 you'd really only be getting 10mg into your system. Still a fair dose, but I'd wager even the great Robert Hawke couldn't down that much that quickly to have any real effect.
 

Bribie G

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Black Devil Dog said:
I can just see A Current Of Air running a story on home brewers making morphine out of yeast.
Only if the brewers are disabled single mothers filmed on hidden cameras dancing around without their walking canes.

Closely followed by a Daily Telegraph front page "death cult single mother leaners brew up death for your kids".

Followed by BigEars calling a news conference "death cult, death cult, stop the brewers, stop the brewers, polly wanna cracker"
 

Dave70

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Or you could avoid the convolution and just order your papaver somniferum seeds from a supplier on e bay and produce your smack the old fashioned, non GM way.
 

Airgead

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Organic smack. None of this GM rubbish... its bad for you. Organic smack is pure... and healthy....
 

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