Gene Breakthrough Sparks ‘Home-Brewed #Morphine’ Fears

Posted: May 18, 2015 in Tech

Scientists on Monday said they had unlocked a pathway for producing opiates from genetically-engineered yeast but feared the discovery could one day be a bonanza for drug lords.

Other experts agreed, 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 key steps towards bio-engineering yeast that would feed on sugar and exude opiates and other therapeutic drugs.

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 cautioned.

“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,” said John Dueber, who co-led Monday’s paper.

Full Story @ [globalpost]

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