Positive pombe: engineering anti-depressant molecules in fission yeast
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased depression and anxiety in Canada, adding to the current opioid drug dependency crisis. Mental health supports can be used with drug options to relieve symptoms and promote better health. Some cases of depression are resistant to treatment, and alternatives are needed that bring patients relief. Psilocybin is a compound found in “magic mushrooms”. Psilocybin is a highly effective anti-depressant; it is also non-addictive, and less toxic than many medications including caffeine and alcohol. Psilocybin is currently a restricted compound in Canada, that has been approved for treatment-resistant depression and end of life care. Medicinal psilocybin is harvested from mushrooms; this can have a wide variety in quality and use of the product as a medicine. We are making yeast strains that produce a safe and controlled source of psilocybin. We will make proteins in yeast that convert amino acids into psilocybin precursors; yeast is a fast-growing and safe drug source. Our work will be done in compliance with the Government of Canada restrictions and paperwork.