Researchers at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio have created bacterium capable of sustainably producing industrial quantities psilocybin, the primary chemical found in psychedelic mushrooms.
The findings will be published in the December issue of the journal Metabolic Engineering.
According to Assistant Professor J. Andrew Jones, who led the study, it’s a significant step towards solving the issue of mass-produced psilocybin, which naturally occurs in the mushroom Psilocybe cubensis, known more commonly as magic mushrooms. Mushroom cultivation, Jones noted, would be an expensive and inefficient method of mass-producing psilocybin for research and drug development.
“We are taking the DNA from the mushroom that encodes its ability to make this product and putting it in E. coli. It’s similar to the way you make beer, through a fermentation process. We are effectively taking the technology that allows for scale and speed of production and applying it to our psilocybin producing E. coli.” — Study lead Andrew Jones, in a statement
Psilocybin — which remains a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act alongside heroin, crystal meth, and cannabis — has been shown to have major potential in the treatment of depression and other mental health afflictions, including PTSD and addiction.
A psilocybin research institute was recently unveiled at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, at least one medical psilocybin initiative is being planned for the Oregon 2020 elections, while voters in Denver, Colorado approved a ballot initiative earlier this year decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms in the city.
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