ClosedAgriculture & Agri-food

Development of a fermentation-based opiate production platform using plant genomics

PROJECT LEAD(S)/CO-LEAD(S) Peter Facchini (University of Calgary) & Dr. Joseph Tucker (Epimeron Inc.)
FUNDER Genome Alberta - Alberta Applied Agriculture Genomics Program (A3GP)
PROJECT START DATE January 1, 2019
PROJECT END DATE June 30, 2021
COMPETITION/ FUNDING OPPORTUNITY Genome Alberta - Alberta Applied Agriculture Genomics Program (A3GP)

Cultivation of opiates, the primary drug used in Western medicine for pain management, occurs primarily outside of North America which can be problematic due to uncertain crop yield. This project aims to use plant-based genomics to establish an alternative bioproduction system for high-value opiates through a reliable, environmentally benign, scalable, and cost-effective yeast fermentation platform. The goal is to establish a high-titer opiate bioproduction platform in baker’s yeast from thebaine feedstock using plant and microbial genes. These findings will enable the larger goal of producing opiates de novo at commercially competitive levels through Alberta based biotechnology platforms for the production of high-value plant metabolites. Additionally, this advancement of knowledge and technology will show promise in the synthesis of novel, effective, yet non-addictive opiate analogs that could replace currently available drugs; positively impacting the opioid crisis owing to their addictive properties.

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