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A Synthetic Biochemistry Platform for the Enzymatic Synthesis of Cannabinoids and Other Prenylated Natural Products


Natural products possess amazing medicinal properties, but in order to capitalize on them we need reproducible and efficient methods to produce them. While this usually means a chemical synthesis approach, natural products can have intricate structures with multiple chiral centers, making synthesis too difficult or expensive. For many complex molecules, bio-based approaches can be advantageous (reviewed in Chapter 1). Cannabinoids are an exciting class of complex natural products that interact with the human endocannabinoid receptors, and have considerable therapeutic potential. Cannabinoids are usually extracted from the cannabis plant and some synthetic routes have been developed. However, due to the high demand for pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids, there are growing efforts to develop a more sustainable and more cost-effective bio-based approach, by metabolic engineering of living organisms. Herein, I test an alternative approach to bio-based cannabinoid production using cell-free enzymatic synthesis, an approach we call synthetic biochemistry.

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