Sao Paulo: Researchers at the University of Brasilia (UnB) and Brazil’s state-owned agriculture and livestock research company Embrapa have discovered a protein in coffee with effects similar to morphine.

Embrapa’s genetics and biotechnology resources division and the UnB successfully “identified previously unknown fragments of protein — peptides — in coffee that have an effect similar to morphine, in other words they have an analgesic and sedative activity,” a statement from Embrapa said Saturday.

Those peptides, it said, “have a positive differential: their effects last longer in experiments with laboratory mice”.

The two institutions applied for patents to Brazilian regulators for the seven “opioid peptides” identified in the study.

The discovery of the molecules came about through the doctorate research work of Felipe Vinecky of the molecular biology department at UnB, who with the consultation of Embrapa was looking to combine coffee genes to improve the quality of the grain.

The study was also supported by France’s Centre for International Cooperation on Agricultural Research and Development, or CIRAD.

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