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Genetically Altered Tobacco Plant Produces Cocaine Leaves

coca leaves

Researchers have successfully replicated the complete biochemical process by which coca plants produce cocaine in another plant, which may make it easier to produce the drug for scientific research.

Everything You Need To Know

The Erythroxylum coca plant’s leaves naturally produce cocaine, and scientists have identified the molecular reactions that lead to this production. They genetically altered a tobacco plant to manufacture two crucial enzymes and get the same results. These alterations turned a precursor molecule into a cocaine backbone.

The discovery might make it possible to make drugs with chemical properties similar to cocaine or cocaine itself. For the purpose of drug discovery, it is feasible to build many cocaine analogs, according to lead author Dr. Sheng-Xiong Huang.

With this information in hand, the researchers looked at the tobacco plant, whose leaves contain an ingredient called omithine that is chemically related to MPOA and is also changed by the two enzymes. The scientists were able to change the N. benthamiana plant so that it would create the enzymes on its own through genetic modification.

Because of this alteration, the tobacco plant could now manufacture methylecgonine, the chemical foundation of cocaine, in its leaves. Compared to a coca plant, the transgenic plant could only produce 400 nanograms of cocaine for every milligram of dried leaf, according to experiments.

The creation of cocaine in tobacco plants makes it relatively accessible as tobacco plants are easily grown. However, there are two sides to the same coin. There’s one where this discovery will aid in medical science discoveries, while on the flip side, it can be exploited by addicts and drug trafficking rinks if made available to the general population.

Significance Of Cocaine In Medical Science

Cocaine is basically an anaesthetic. It is used to numb or produce a loss of feeling in specific bodily parts, such as the nose, mouth, or throat. This makes it possible to perform some surgeries or procedures without causing discomfort.

It is unlikely that using cocaine as a local anaesthetic for a procedure or examination will result in psychological dependence or other severe side effects. However, if cocaine enters the body too quickly, it may have negative side effects. Additionally, some people are more sensitive than others to cocaine’s effects. Even with small doses of the medication, undesirable effects may still occur in certain patients. You should discuss the use of cocaine as a local anaesthetic with your doctor prior to obtaining it.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the pharmaceutical business Lannett Company, Inc. to commercialize Numbrino, the trade name for a nasal spray containing cocaine hydrochloride, on January 13. A topical treatment for the mucous membranes in the nasal canals is called Numbrino. Otolaryngologists are a group of medical professionals with expertise in the ears, nose, and throat, and Lannett Company plans to market to them and sell Numbrino to them. Numbrino is a local anaesthetic used by otolaryngologists during nose surgeries.

The Dark Side

Psychological dependence may result from cocaine use (a strong desire to continue using the medicine because of the “high” feeling it produces). This could raise the risk of major adverse effects as well as cocaine misuse (using the drug more frequently or in bigger doses). Abuse of cocaine has resulted in fatal cardiac or breathing failure.

The possibility of developing a cocaine addiction is rather high. Cocaine is a Schedule 2 drug, according to the DEA. Thus anyone who abuses it runs the danger of developing an addiction. In fact, a seminal 2005 study found that the chance of developing a cocaine addiction is 5%

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