A mysterious but crucial step that coca plants use to build cocaine has been discovered, according to a group of biochemists.
the drug’s infamy, cocaine is chemically similar to a host of
anesthetics and stimulants used legally every day. Understanding how
cocaine is made in the coca plant might therefore lead to new anesthetic
drugs without the addictive qualities, the study authors say.
“Plants can’t run away, so they have to be the planet’s best chemists to survive,” said study co-author John D’Auria, a biochemist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany.