“Magic Mushroom” enzyme mystery solved by Harvard University

Published: Wilson Clark

On: Aug 2017

A little brown mushroom can treat the cancer like diseases. Psilocybe is a genus that leads to euphoria and hallucinations. This psilocybe called as "magic mushroom". One of the chemists from Sandoz named as Albert Hofmann separated and determined the skeleton of psilocybin. This psilocybin is the main ingredient in mushrooms that leads to the psychedelic effect. The effect was approximately 60 years ago.

Research at Harvard University:

This discovery and the study of experiments by Harvard University psychologist Timothy F. Leary left some hints. Scientist took long years to study the experiment thesis and work on it. These compounds used for medical uses which include treating anxiety and depression in terminal cancer. Moreover it also helps in treating nicotine addiction. Yet no one has been able to open the way that the mushroom's use.

After many years Janis Fricke, Felix Blei, and Dirk Hoffmeister of Friedrich Schiller University Jena carried the study forward. They identified and distributed to some large extent. So, according to them these four enzymes that mushrooms uses to make psilocybin. Then after a long study the team move forward and developed first enzymatic synthesis of the compound. This took them for the commercial production. 

Combination of three enzymes:

While the study was going on, Hoffmeister and coworkers got some hints. They sequenced genomes of two mushroom species to identify the genes. These genes govern fungal enzymatic production of psilocybin. The further continued with the study for bacteria and fungi. This study was to confirm the gene activity and exact order of synthetic steps. While achieving the result it discovered enzyme that decarboxylates tryptophan. They got an enzyme that adds a hydroxyl group and another enzyme that catalyzes phosphorylation.  Thus the last one enzyme that mediates two sequential amine methylation steps with that knowledge in hand, the team created a one-pot reaction using three enzymes to prepare psilocybin from 4-hydroxy-L-tryptophan.

Thus it made the researchers easier to find the three different enzymes to result in one. Hence it is now just a study, because the practical achievement still needs some study. So, it might take a little time to improve more. While this much of time took to achieve the goal. Hence if we continue this study it will be more efficient and appropriate in medical and science field. Thus it will turn into a correct invention.