"Home-Brewed" Morphine Possible
If you can brew beer, you might be able to brew morphine. Scientists have discovered that by using the same kit as home brewers to genetically modify yeast, people could perform a certain chemistry that can convert sugar into morphine. The findings were published in Nature Chemical Biology.
Home brewing kits use microscopic yeast to turn sugar into alcohol. But researchers from University of California, Berkeley, say that genetically engineering yeast by borrowing DNA from plants can then allow the yeast to turn sugar into morphine. The team has figured out the last step: producing an intermediary chemical called reticuline. The team has now put all the steps together that are necessary for brewing morphine. They said the key to the fermentation process is feeding the yeast glucose, a cheap sugar source.
This finding could be a breakthrough in the production of pain medications. However, researchers are also concerned that it could lead to illegal drug production.