In contrast to illegal opium production in countries like Afghanistan, where harvesting is done by hand by lancing poppy heads, commercial pharmaceutical production is highly mechanised, with farmers using modern combine harvesters.That makes commercial poppy cultivation a cost-effective process, even though most medicines today are produced by chemical synthesis or biotechnology."The poppy plant is very efficient at producing these compounds," said Ian Graham, director of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at York.
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More recently, researchers have found noscapine is also a potent anti-cancer agent, prompting clinical tests into its role in fighting blood cancer.
The discovery that a cluster of 10 genes is responsible for the synthesis of noscapine inside the poppies means plant breeders can now develop high-yielding varieties.
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We arranged a first meeting in February 2016 and from the first moment felt comfortable and the connection was evident. We are happy to say that we got married on 9 July 2016!!London - Scientists have unravelled exactly how opium poppies produce a non-addictive compound that can both suppress coughs and kill tumour cells, paving the way for improved production of the medicine.Opium poppies, the source of illicit heroin, are also important for producing medical painkillers such as morphine and codeine, along with noscapine, which has been used for decades as a cough suppressant.It may also help scientists in future produce the drug in factories.The findings by researchers at the University of York and Glaxo Smith Kline were published on Thursday in the journal Science.Working back from a strain of poppies producing high levels of noscapine, Graham and colleagues followed the trail of genes linked to the chemical to home in on the cluster of 10 specific genes central to production of the compound.