Scientists at the Stanford University have announced the creation of yeast strains that can produce narcotic drugs. These strains can simulate the power of painkillers such as morphine, or better known as oxycontin and vicodin as designer drugs.
These drugs, known as opioids could be extracted only from opium poppy, but researchers at the Stanford lab have found a way to bypass it natural source. Study senior author Christina Smolke, associate professor of bioengineering, Stanford University, said that the techniques they developed and demonstrate for opioid [narcotic] pain relievers can be adapted to produce many plant-derived compounds to fight cancers, infectious diseases, chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and arthritis.
About 10 years ago, scientists in Berkeley derived a precursor to artemisinin, an effective malaria drug by adding multiple genes to yeast. This drug had to be extracted from sweet wormwood shrubs, and most of this drug is now created from bioengineered yeast.
However, experts are concerned about his discovery as it could be used by drug traffickers than by pharmaceutical companies. Legal drugmakers have steady supply have a supply of raw materials from countries such as India, Turkey, Australia and others.
Scientists have law-enforcement authorities have mentioned that it could take many more years before it can be mass-produced. The new strain of yeast would require 100,000 times as much to match the yield of poppy seeds. Smolke said that it would take 4,400 gallons of yeast to produce a single vicodin tablet.
This article has been originally published at NewYorkDigit.