Dr. J Andrew Jones is published in his research on production of psilocybin

Photo of Dr. Jones and his research teamDr. J. Andrew Jones, Ph.D, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering, has been published in the Metabolic Engineering journal for his latest work in the production of the psychoactive compound psilocybin through engineered bacteria. 

The compound, found in more than 100 mushroom species (but most notably in Psilocybe cubensis), can be engineered and produced through modifying the bacteria E. coli.

Recently, scientists have discovered that the compound that makes people feel so “trippy” can also be used to aide in relieving the symptoms of things like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This experimentation has since gained the attention of pharmaceutical companies as a result of successful clinical studies. These scientific developments make Dr. Jones and his team’s research that much more important. 

Originally, the discovery of the compound’s benefits held empty promises of getting a leg up in the medical world, as it would be difficult to attain large amounts of psilocybin without farming a significant number of the fungi. The process would take an extensive amount of time, money and resources.

That harvesting problem has since been solved with Dr. Jones’s breakthrough research. By taking the DNA from the mushroom and putting it in E. coli, the team was able to steadily produce very high concentrations of multiple strains of the psychedelic E. coli, and selected the most useful strain, now named pPsilo16.

For more a more in-depth reading on Dr. Jones’s work, refer to his publication in Metabolic Engineering

By Jenna Calderón, CEC Communications Assistant