For centuries, morphine and other opioids have been the go-to drugs for pain relief. But their molecular structure is so complex, they are isolated or manufactured from compounds in plants, such as opium poppies. Chemists have never been able to produce them from off-the-shelf components.
Scientists, however, recently reported engineering yeast to carry out the second part of the 15-step opioid-producing reaction. What remained was just the hurdle of coaxing yeast to carry out the first part.
That is what scientists, led by John Dueber of the University of California, Berkeley, have accomplished.Considering all the headaches Berkeley is responsible for, they owed us.