Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman made a far-out discovery in the 1960s when he determined the structure of psilocybin and how to synthesize it. However, the enzymatic basis for psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, remained undefined. Janis Fricke, Felix Blei and Dirk Hoffmeister—researchers at the 459-year-old Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany—characterized four enzymes in psychedelic mushrooms and synthesized psilocybin enzymatically.
Their research, published as "Enzymatic Synthesis of Psilocybin" in the August 2017 international edition of Angewandte Chemie, has potential large-scale applications for the medical use of psychedelic mushrooms, which, like cannabis, remains a wholly prohibited Schedule I substance. Despite the government's instance that psilocybin is a dangerous drug of abuse without any medical value, recent clinical studies found that magic mushrooms have a wide range of potential applications. For example, shrooms might help with tobacco addiction, mental health disorders and migraine headaches.
"Given the renewed pharmaceutical interest in psilocybin," says the study, "our results may lay the foundation for its biotechnological production." That is, by developing a formula for synthesizing the psychedelic compound in mushrooms, the researchers provided a blueprint for producing lab-tested psilocybin that medical professionals could potentially give to patients who might benefit from its effects.
It's probably too early to make this proclamation, but the age of medical mushrooms might be upon us.