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They must perform another set of bioengineering hacks to connect the two major advances they have made over the past decade. Remember that it takes about 17 chemical steps to go from poppy to pill. When she began the work in , Smolke started early in the process and went about halfway through these chemical steps. In a paper she reported success in that first phase of the project when her bioengineered yeast produced a precursor to thebaine—one of the three principal opiates.

In her new paper, Smolke started with thebaine obtained from poppies, put this into her bioengineered yeast and got refined opioids at the end of the process. Now her team must extend the process from sugar to thebaine.

Development of bio-based fine chemical production through synthetic bioengineering

Once she forges this missing link in the chain of biochemical synthesis, she will have produced a bioengineered yeast that can perform all 17 steps from sugar to specific opioid drugs in a single vat. Smolke said it could take several more years to perfect these last steps in the lab and scale up the process to produce large sized batches of bioengineered opioids that are pharmacologically identical to today's drugs that start in a field and are refined in factories. More from Biology and Medical. Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute.

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More information Privacy policy. This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, and provide content from third parties. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Share Twit Share Email. Home Biology Biotechnology. August 24, Genes from opium poppy and a bacterium were used to engineer yeast strains that biosynthesize opioids from precursors.

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The engineered yeast produce molecules identical to the natural and semi-synthetic opioid drugs manufactured from opium poppy crops, highlighting the potential for an alternative source of these essential drugs. Credit: Rachel Sakai. Composite image by Kate Thodey and Stephanie Galanie.

Explore further. More information: A microbial biomanufacturing platform for natural and semisynthetic opioids, Nature Chemical Biology , dx. Provided by Stanford University.


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This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Found: three black holes on collision course 6 hours ago. Microalgae are a unique source of therapeutic substances, particularly from cyanobacteria. Among cyanobacteria Spirulina sp. Hydrogen peroxide is a product of microalgae and plants through of photosynthesis, photorespiration, respiration and other metabolic processes, as result from the enzymatic activity of glycolate oxidase, urate oxidase and amino acid oxidase.

However, it is suspected that those antioxidants are responsible for some side effects such as liver damage and carcinogenesis. Antioxidants can involve with the oxidation process by scavenging free radicals, chelating catalytic metals and by acting as oxygen scavengers [ 33 ]. Recently many researchers are interested in finding any natural antioxidants having safety and effectiveness, which can be substituted for current and commercial synthetic antioxidants, BHA and BHT.

Microalgae have become good candidates for sources of natural antioxidants, as revealed by a number of recent studies [ 34 - 35 ]. Algae contain several enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidant defense systems to maintain the concentration of ROS O 2 - and H 2 O 2 to protect cells from damage [ 36 ]. The main cellular components susceptible to damage by these ROS are lipids peroxidation of poly-unsaturated fatty acids in membranes , proteins denaturation , carbohydrates and nucleic acids.

The essential for ROS detoxification during normal metabolism and particularly during stress, are antioxidant defenses system [ 37 ]. These enzymic detoxification system involving the action of SOD and reductase, either quench toxic compounds or regenerate antioxidants with the help of reducing power provided by photosynthesis [ 39 ]. However, at low levels, H 2 O 2 resulted in induction of defense genes such as glutathione S-transferase and glutathione peroxidase.

Also, Foyer and Noctor [ 41 ] reported that the changes in ROS, fluctuations in the antioxidants concentrations in photosynthetic cells might have important consequences not only for defense metabolism but also for the regulation of genes associated with adaptive responses.

Several bioactive metabolites produced by cyanobacteria and algae have been discovered by screening programs, employing target organisms quite unrelated to those for which the metabolites evolved [ 42 ]. Shanab et al. Concerning DPPH, the antioxidant activity of nine tested algal species ranged between Anabaena oryza , Phomidium fragile and Wallea saccate Table 1 recorded the highest extracellular total phenolic compounds 0. The highest terpenoids contents were achieved by Phormidium fragile , Spirulina platensis and Wollea saccata 0.

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The maximum values of the extracellular alkaloids were recorded by Anabaena oryza , Phomidium fragile , Anabaena oryza , Spirulina platensis and Phomidium fragile 0. While, the highest percentages of these metabolities complaining with the released extracellularly metabolities, Spirulina platensis , Nostoc muscourum and Oscillatoria sp. Concerning terpenoids, Anabaena flos aquae , Spirulina platensis and Wollea saccata , recorded the highest contents 0. Alkaloids determination in algal cultures showed that S.

Phycobiliprotein pigments Table 3 were determined in water extracts of the tested algal species. Normally, phycobilin pigments in cyanobacteria comprised phycocyanin, allophycocyanin and phycoerytherin the blue, gray and red colors respectively.

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Phormidium fragile recorded the higher C-phycocyanin CPC content 0. Nostoc muscorum contained the greatest allophycocyanin APC pigment 0. Concerning total phycobilin pigments phycocyanin and allophycocyanin , Nostoc muscrum , Phormedium fragile recorded the highest contents 0.

Chlorella vulgaris is green alga which have other pigments Chlorophyll and carotenoids than the phycobilins absent. Aqueous extracts of the tested algal species showed wide range of colours green, blue, violet, pink, ligh-blue in spite of the fact that eight of the tested algae were of cyanobacteria and only one species was a green alga, their water extracts showed highly variable colors Figure 6 which may be attributed in part to their phycobiliprotein constituents ratios of phycocyanin to allophycocyanin and approximately absence of phycoerytherin pigments , and in part to the produced major polar secondary metabolites.

All these substances may not only caused the alteration of the pH values of the algal aqueous extracts, but also the induced biological activities which may be attributed to the synergistic effects of these compounds. The aqueous extract of the tested algal species 8 cyanobacteria and one green alga have variable colors Figure 6 ranging from green, violet, blue, light blue and pink color, which can be used as an additive coloring agents to different food products natural, non toxic instead of the synthetic coloring substances which may be carcinogenic [ 43 ].

Color of aqueous extracts of the different microalgae 1. Nostoc muscorum, 2. Anabaena flos aquae, 3. Chlorella vulgari, 4. Oscillatoria sp. Spirulina platensis, 6. Anabaena oryzae, 7. Wollea saccat, 8. Nostoc humifusum and 9. Phormedium fragile [43]. Phycobiliprotein pigments were known by its antioxidant activity [ 44 ], increasing of these pigments production as a result of doubling nitrate concentration in the growth culture media, led to a progressive increase in the antioxidant activity recorded by both DPPH and ABTS assays in the two cyanobacteria under investigation.

Keeping in mind that, synergetic effect occurred between the polar secondry metabolites especially the phenolic compounds and the polysaccharides in antioxidant activity. Increasing nitrate concentrations in the culture media of both cyanobacteria species N. They also investigated that increasing nitrate conc.


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The decrease in nitrate conc. The antioxidant activity in both species by both assays was apparently not affected comparing with the control 1. Under stress conditions, it was known that, deviation in metabolic pathways may occur. In presence of nitrate, nitrogenous compounds, including the phycobilin pigments were increasingly produced leading, together with other antioxidant active secondary metabolites as phenolics , to a marked increase in biological activity.

The decrease in nitrate content induced a stress condition and not only a decrease in nitrogen skeleton compounds as phycobilin pigment production, but an increase in the carbon skeleton compounds as phenolics as a result of metabolic alterations under these stress conditions. So on decreasing nitrate content, the antioxidant activity remain at a level comparable or even higher than the control due to the synergistic effect of the phycobilin pigment and the phenolic compounds produced in excess under stress nitrate condition which have high redox potentials. Shalaby et al.

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