Pharmaceutical Biology

Enzymatic Synthesis of Psilocybin

Dr. Dirk Hoffmeister, Institute of Pharmacy, University of Jena

Published in: Angewandte Chemie International Edition 56, 12352-12355.

"Magic Mushrooms" such as Psilocybe cubensis contain psilocybin which has structural similarity to serotonin. Psilocybin leads to changes in consciousness and, like LSD, is a classic hallucinogen. As a partial agonist, it mainly attacks the 5HT2A receptor of the human central nervous system. Psilocybin is currently being investigated in phase III clinical studies with regard to its use in the treatment of therapy-resistant depression or anxiety in advanced stages of cancers. Prof. Hoffmeister's team was able to synthesise psilocybin in vitro in a combined reaction with PsiD, PsiK and PsiM. In view of the renewed pharmaceutical interest in psilocybin, these results provide a basis for its biotechnological production in vitro or in vivo.