Scientists Have Hacked Yeast to Produce Narcotics

Yeast, that magical microorganism that provideth bread and beer, can now make narcotics, too. In a much-anticipated update, a team of scientists from Stanford University has engineered a strain of common brewer’s yeast to turn simple sugars into opioid drugs.

Source: Scientists Have Hacked Yeast to Produce Narcotics

I was glad to see the article addressed my concern – that illegal drug manufacture would benefit.  But the yield is claimed to be so low, it’s only a proof of concept at this point.  But now there’s reason to investigate if the yield can be improved.  The article did not cover what the resources needed were for this, to help determine if it is a better means of producing medications.  There is opioid overdose reversal medication – this article covers how it came to be, and the social implications

What It’s Like to Quit Drugs By Blocking the Highs

If you could take the high out of drugs, what would be the point in taking them? Sujata Gupta meets the unorthodox doctor who thinks he can block some of the world’s most addictive pills.

Source: What It’s Like to Quit Drugs By Blocking the Highs

People rarely get addicted to these things because they want to get high – they get addicted because it’s the only thing that allows them to cope with their issues. Removing the reward certainly allows them to come off the meds but you need to be sure that the illness can be dealt with without those meds.

How Research Scientists Get Free Illegal Drugs from the Government

On an obscure webpage that looks like it’s been barely updated in the last decade there’s a link to download a PDF with the unassuming name of “NDSP Catalog.” Click it and you’ll find pretty much every drug you can dream up: meth, cocaine, heroin, MDMA—nearly 800 compounds in all. Welcome to the scientist’s stash of illegal drugs, available for free from the government.

The catalog, aka NIDA Drug Supply Program, provides scientists with scheduled substances for human and animal research. If you’ve ever seen a subway ad recruiting for marijuana research or a news coverage of how cocaine addles the brains of mice, then you’ve likely indirectly encountered the NDSP.

Source: How Research Scientists Get Free Illegal Drugs from the Government

The article only touches on quality and consistency that is necessary for research grade, but it’s also necessary for addiction treatment and withdrawal symptoms.

How Scientists Gained the Ability to Reverse Heroin Overdoses

Naloxone can reverse an otherwise fatal heroin overdose within minutes. Carrie Arnold meets the doctors who put this remarkable drug in the hands of the police, families and addicts—and saved thousands of lives.

…it as one of the few defences against the epidemic of overdoses that was killing people across America. Cheap and relatively pure heroin had recently become easier to obtain, but that wasn’t the only cause. A few years earlier, physicians had begun to change the way they prescribed opioid painkillers. These drugs can be highly addictive; one physician I talked to called them “heroin in pill form”. Yet between 1991 and 2013, prescriptions for opioid painkillers jumped from 76 million to 207 million per year, partly because physicians became more willing to prescribe the drugs to patients with chronic pain. Some of these patients found themselves hooked. And then, instead of sticking with these relatively expensive prescription narcotics, some began injecting heroin, for the better high and lower cost. America’s prescription opioid and heroin epidemics were merging into a single monster, one with tentacles that seemed to be everywhere, slowly strangling young and old.

Source: How Scientists Gained the Ability to Reverse Overdoses

It’s an involved, interesting and balanced article.  It addresses the concerns that reversing an overdose enables addicts, and how the drug works (receptor antagonist).

Did you know that heroin was originally a trademark?  Like hoover and xerox, trademark names that became so commonplace the branding lost significance.