Hacked Statins

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We are pleased to announce yet another addition to C-MOULD, the world’s largest collection of microorganisms for use in art and design, as part of the new microbial gastronomy section.

Monascus purpureus is filamentous fungus noted for its role in the production of red yeast rice (RYR), a traditional fermented food in East Asian areas with a history documented back to the Han dynasty (BC 202-AD 220) in China. Recent studies have shown that this organism is able to produce abundant beneficial secondary metabolites, such as monacolin (a statin) K, γ -amino butyric acid (an antihypertensive), and dimerumic acid (an antioxidant). Monacolin K is a statin and lowers serum cholesterol levels by inhibiting HMG–CoA reductase, the rate-limiting step for cholesterol synthesis in the liver.

The active ingredient in Merck’s  prescription only statin Mevacor,  lovastatin, is actually  identical to monacolin K,  the natural statin produced by Monascus purpureus. Consequently,  availability of this fungus through C-MOULD, gives people the opportunity to grow and produce powerful cholesterol lowering drugs in the comfort of their own homes.

Finally, it also smells divine, a blend of yeasty and orangey aromas.

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