Poppies make more than opium

Gene cluster controls production of a valuable compound

By Tina Hesman Saey, 11:56 AM June 15, 2012

Opium poppies, such as the Tasmanian poppies pictured here, are prized for the valuable drugs they produce. Scientists have long known how the plants make opiates, such as codeine and morphine, but the molecular steps for making a nonaddictive substance called noscapine have been a mystery until now. Noscapine is a cough suppressant that is also used as an antitumor drug. A group of 10 genes carries the instructions for building enzymes Papaver somniferum poppies need to produce noscapine, Ia...

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