We've mentioned before how yeast
can produce a bunch of useful stuff, beyond bread and beer. Synthetic biology promises to give us engineered microorganisms that can make almost any specialty chemical or even some biofuels. Brewing medicine might not be too far away, and it might be incredibly difficult to control "controlled substances" in the very near future.
- Genetically modified yeast can produce opiates similar to morphine. And it looks like several other derivatives of potent painkillers can be made this way, too, possibly leading to ones that are less addictive or that have fewer side effects. [url]
- Other scientists have coaxed yeast into producing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), one of the psychoactive compounds in marijuana. It's still pretty difficult to do, but presumably, it will get easier and more economical. And by then, we'll have THC-infused beer brewed and on tap. [url]
- Meanwhile, the FDA is proposing new rules to help distinguish copycat pharmaceuticals and biosimilar drugs. Adding four random letters to the end of a generic name medicine could reduce some confusion, but hopefully, in the end, everyone who needs critical drugs will get access to more affordable pharmaceuticals. [url]
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