Breaking News
January 18, 2019 - Breast cancers more likely to metastasize in young women within 10 years of giving birth
January 18, 2019 - Blood vessels can now be created perfectly in a petri dish
January 18, 2019 - Young-Onset Type 2 Diabetes Tied to Increased Hospitalization Risk
January 18, 2019 - For-profit nursing schools associated with lower performance on nurse licensure test
January 18, 2019 - Considering the culture of consent in medicine
January 18, 2019 - Researchers identify comprehensive guidelines for managing severe atopic dermatitis
January 18, 2019 - Analyzing proteins in blister fluid may classify burn severity more accurately
January 18, 2019 - Study finds higher suicide rates among youth who were Medicaid enrollees
January 18, 2019 - Opioid drugs often overprescribed to children for pain relief, say CHOP surgeons
January 18, 2019 - New biodegradable wound dressing material accelerates healing
January 18, 2019 - Life in Space May Take Toll on Spinal Muscles
January 18, 2019 - Bulldogs’ screw tails linked to human genetic disease
January 18, 2019 - Immunotherapy target identified for pediatric cancers
January 18, 2019 - Financial stress may increase heart disease risk in African Americans
January 18, 2019 - Scientists solve another piece of Ebola virus puzzle
January 18, 2019 - New project finds how endocrine disruptors interfere with thyroid functions
January 18, 2019 - Research finds decline in ketone body utilization when coronary circulation is reduced
January 18, 2019 - Let’s map our DNA and save billions each year in health costs
January 18, 2019 - AI demonstrates potential to identify irregular heart rhythms as well as humans
January 17, 2019 - Study shows link between air pollution and increased risk of sleep apnea
January 17, 2019 - Neck-strengthening exercises can protect athletes from concussions
January 17, 2019 - Computer model shows how to better control MRSA outbreaks
January 17, 2019 - Pain is unpleasant, and now scientists have identified the set of responsible neurons
January 17, 2019 - CUIMC Celebrates 2018-2019
January 17, 2019 - Study reveals potential pathway for endothelial cells to avoid apoptosis
January 17, 2019 - Hamilton Storage launches LabElite DeCapper SL to expand LabElite product family
January 17, 2019 - Location of epigenetic changes co-locate with genetic signal causing psychartric disorder
January 17, 2019 - Researchers awarded 6.1 million euros to address female fertility problems
January 17, 2019 - Counseling appointments fail to reduce weight gain during pregnancy, shows study
January 17, 2019 - Contraceptive patch that could provide 6 months of contraception within seconds
January 17, 2019 - Yeast model may pave way for development of novel therapies for metabolic disorders
January 17, 2019 - Study determines impact of antibiotic perturbation of the gut microbiome on skeletal health
January 17, 2019 - Cardiometabolic Risk Up With Tourette, Chronic Tic Disorder
January 17, 2019 - Hong Kong scientists claim ‘broad-spectrum’ antiviral breakthrough
January 17, 2019 - Researchers discover the brain cells that make pain unpleasant | News Center
January 17, 2019 - Hepatitis Is Common in New Cancer Patients
January 17, 2019 - Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Drug Prices Are Rising Again. Is Someone Going To Do Something About It?
January 17, 2019 - Smoking significantly increases your biological age, study shows
January 17, 2019 - B-group vitamins may be beneficial for people with first episode psychosis
January 17, 2019 - Researchers demonstrate how manganese produces parkinsonian syndrome
January 17, 2019 - Researchers suggest link between personality type and attitude towards others’ bodies
January 17, 2019 - Mutant mice administered with cocaine failed to exhibit hyperactivity, shows study
January 17, 2019 - Health Tip: Understanding a Heart Murmur
January 17, 2019 - Gut protein mutations shield against spikes in glucose
January 17, 2019 - Engineered immune cells target broad range of pediatric solid tumors in mice | News Center
January 17, 2019 - Study provides comprehensive description of associations between mental disorders
January 17, 2019 - Study finds link between high pesticide exposure and poor sense of smell among farmers
January 17, 2019 - Many cancer patients have undiagnosed hepatitis
January 17, 2019 - New study finds only 13% of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions to be appropriate
January 17, 2019 - Stem cell-based approach to diabetes offers hope for treatment
January 17, 2019 - New project receives €8.65 million from EU and Canada to ease genomic, health data sharing
January 17, 2019 - Improvements in pharmacological study to fight cognitive impairment in schizophrenia
January 17, 2019 - Study looks at trends over time in oral antibiotic prescribing by dermatologists
January 17, 2019 - Most substance use disorder treatment facilities do not offer medication treatment
January 17, 2019 - Multiple sclerosis could benefit from stem cell therapy
January 17, 2019 - Researchers manipulate T cells to improve transplant success
January 17, 2019 - Put away your rulers and reach for your phone
January 17, 2019 - Mindfulness linked with fewer menopausal symptoms
January 17, 2019 - Integrated care to women with PMADs offered at several levels
January 17, 2019 - Researchers identify MANF as a rejuvenating factor in parabiosis
January 17, 2019 - Truncal mutations study suggests new direction in origins of cancer
January 17, 2019 - Beckman Coulter launches new ClearLLab 10C System for clinical flow cytometry lab
January 17, 2019 - Effects of linoleic acid on the body are largely dependent on genes, shows study
January 17, 2019 - Pre-injury exercise reduces damage to both muscles and nerves, study finds
January 17, 2019 - Minimizing Antibody Size to Maximize Research Potential
January 17, 2019 - Research finds large genome in tiny forest defoliator
January 17, 2019 - Technology helps reduce the yearning for unhealthy food
January 17, 2019 - Imec develops prototype cardiovascular device
January 17, 2019 - New Drug Application for Insomnia Disorder Treatment Lemborexant Submitted in the United States
January 17, 2019 - What you should know about teeth whitening
January 17, 2019 - Why Older Adults Should Eat More Protein (And Not Overdo Protein Shakes)
January 17, 2019 - Colorectal cancer mortality rates predicted to increase globally
January 17, 2019 - Scientists discover mutational signatures of tumor hypoxia
January 17, 2019 - New evidence shows how fever alters immune cells
January 17, 2019 - Researchers find new class of blood pressure-regulating peptides in vampire bat venom
January 17, 2019 - Promega to exhibit new Maxwell RSC48 platform at 2019 Festival of Genomics
January 17, 2019 - Study pinpoints immune cells that could be key to tackling hypertension
January 17, 2019 - Couples Intervention May Aid Partners of Diabetes Patients
January 17, 2019 - Your weight history may predict your heart failure risk
January 17, 2019 - Explore a cornucopia of accomplishments in prematurity research
Discovery opens door for synthetic opioids with less addictive qualities

Discovery opens door for synthetic opioids with less addictive qualities

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Making opioids from sugar instead of from field grown opium poppies has the potential to solve many of the problems associated with manufacturing strong pain killers.

Epimeron Inc. (“Epimeron”), a Calgary-based biotechnology company, has taken a major step toward that goal with its announcement of the isolation of a novel gene from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). The gene encodes the enzyme thebaine synthase, which had previously been hypothesized, but never found, until now. Thebaine is the essential starting point in the synthesis of widely-prescribed pharmaceuticals, including the analgesics oxycodone and hydrocodone and the addiction treatments buprenorphine and naltrexone.

The breakthrough announced today enables the completion of commercial, non-plant-based biosynthetic manufacturing systems for active opioid agents and intermediates. It also opens the door to the creation of new opioid molecules, some with new characteristics such as reduced addictiveness. The discovery was published May 28, 2018 in a Nature Chemical Biology article titled “A pathogenesis-related 10 protein catalyzes the final step in thebaine biosynthesis.”

Microbial production of active pharmaceutical ingredients from sugar as source material promises to replace current opioid manufacturing methods that rely on opium poppies for raw ingredients. Current regulatory requirements and commercial practices require the importation of crushed poppy straw from producer countries such as India and Turkey. The imported ingredients are then processed locally to the final pharmaceutical products. Legal opium poppy farming in producer countries is plagued by diversion of legitimately made controlled substances into the illicit drug trade.

Local biosynthetic manufacturing directly from sugar will eliminate the need for opium poppy raw materials and thus decrease, or eliminate, diversion as a source of illicit ingredients. Moving away from outmoded plant ingredient purification techniques also enables improved quality and consistency, simplified logistics compared to moving narcotic raw materials around the world and avoids using fertile land that could better be employed for food production.

In addition, the microbial manufacturing strains will provide a basis from which to develop novel less addictive opioids not currently accessible from the plant or traditional chemistries. Until now it was not commercially viable to attempt to make certain modifications to the opioid molecule, but microbial biosynthesis now makes them possible. From these, numerous candidate pharmaceuticals will arise for testing, and some of these may well be superior to currently marketed products.

“While that next crucial breakthrough still lies ahead of us, the beneficial impact that such new medicines would have on society takes your breath away,” said Joseph Tucker, Ph.D., CEO of Epimeron.

Peter Facchini, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Epimeron said, “Our demonstrated expertise in research and entrepreneurship will continue to drive this important endeavour. We’ve made great progress so far, and this announcement is an indication of the potential that lies ahead in developing new drugs to manage pain.”

“We are delighted with this announcement which is an excellent example of how a nearly decade-old investment in large-scale genomic science can yield concrete benefits to Canada in terms of new technologies and economic growth for Canadian firms such as Epimeron,” said Dr. Gijs van Rooijen, chief scientific officer with Genome Alberta.

“The discovery of the thebaine synthase gene is significant. This work has unlocked the path to transforming the commercial production of opiates and indicates the very real potential of developing non-addictive opioids. It is satisfying to witness how Dr. Faccini’s comprehensive research has transitioned into creating a considerable impact,” states Dr. John Wilson, director, Physical and Life Sciences, Innovate Calgary.


Explore further:
Researchers uncover metabolic enzymes with ‘widespread roles’ in opium poppy

More information:
Xue Chen et al, A pathogenesis-related 10 protein catalyzes the final step in thebaine biosynthesis, Nature Chemical Biology (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41589-018-0059-7

Journal reference:
Nature Chemical Biology

Provided by:
Epimeron

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles