Felix Blei

Scientist

Dr. Felix Blei is a pharmaceutical microbiologist based in Jena, Germany, and the founder and CEO of Projekt Miraculix, which provides rapid, affordable testing for alkaloids in food and drugs.

Dr. Blei attended Friedrich-Schiller University (FSU) for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He obtained his Bachelor’s in biology in 2012 and his Master’s in biology and microbiology in 2015. He went on to conduct research in Dr. Dirk Hoffmeister’s lab at the Hans Knöll Institute (HKI), an affiliate of FSU, and earned his PhD in microbiology there in 2020. Dr. Blei founded his alkaloid testing company, Projekt Miraculix, upon graduating in 2020. 

The focus of Dr. Blei’s research has been the biosynthesis of indole alkaloids in Psilocybe mushrooms. His work has made important advancements in understanding the composition, biosynthetic pathways, and enzymatic processes within these species,1-6 offering insight into effective synthetic production of psilocybin.1,5 

In a study published in 2017, Dr. Blei and colleagues hypothesized the specific enzymatic processes that lay the foundation for in vitro synthesis or biotechnological production of psilocybin and related therapeutic compounds.1 The study described four enzymes involved in the conversion of tryptophan into psilocybin in magic mushrooms: PsiD, PsiK, PsiM, PsiH. A Psychedelic Science Review piece summarized how the enzymes work. The research team also identified norbaeocystin, a psilocybin analog, as a potential intermediate in the biosynthesis of psilocybin. A follow-up study in 2018 found in vitro addition of tryptophan synthase, TrpB, to be a more affordable psilocybin biosynthesis enhancement than previous methods.3 

Dr. Blei led a 2019 study representing the first-ever identification of naturally occurring beta-carbolines in Psilocybe mushrooms species.3 As Psychedelic Science Review Editor Barbara Bauer wrote in an article describing the study’s implications for future psychedelic research, the discovery “deepens the complexity of the already challenging magic mushroom chemical landscape.” It sheds light on so-called magic mushrooms’ “entourage effect” — the way various natural compounds combine to generate a psychoactive experience in the user — and may indicate additional, distinct therapeutic benefits of beta carboline-containing species.

Dr. Blei was also part of a team that achieved in vitro biosynthesis of 6-methylated congeners of psilocybin.4 The team found similarities between the enzymatic processes in the biosynthesis of these compounds and those that occur in the conversion of tryptophan to psilocybin in Psilocybe mushrooms. The findings, published in May 2019, support future research into the function of serotonergic psychedelics and the synthetic production of psilocybin. The study was also covered by Psychedelic Science Review.  

More information about Dr. Blei’s research can be found on his ResearchGate profile.

    References
  1. Fricke J, Blei F, Hoffmeister D. Enzymatic synthesis of psilocybin. Angewandte Chemie (International ed.). 2017;56:12352-12355. doi:10.1002/anie.201705489
  2. Blei F, Fricke J, Wick J, Slot JC, Hoffmeister D. Iterative l-Tryptophan methylation in psilocybe evolved by subdomain duplication. ChemBioChem. 2018;19(20):2160-2166. doi:10.1002/cbic.201800336
  3. Blei F, Dörner S, Fricke J, et al. Simultaneous production of psilocybin and a cocktail of β-carboline monoamine oxidase inhibitors in “magic” mushrooms. Chemistry – A European Journal. 2020;26(3):729-734. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/chem.201904363
  4. Fricke J, Sherwood A, Kargbo R, et al. Enzymatic route toward 6‐methylated baeocystin and psilocybin. Chembiochem : A European Journal of Chemical Biology. 2019;20:2824-2829. doi:10.1002/cbic.201900358
  5. Fricke J, Lenz C, Wick J, Blei F, Hoffmeister D. Production options for psilocybin ‐ the making of the magic. Chemistry – A European Journal. 2019;25:897-903. doi:10.1002/chem.201802758
  6. Blei F, Baldeweg F, Fricke J, Hoffmeister D. Biocatalytic production of psilocybin and derivatives in tryptophan synthase-enhanced reactions. Chemistry : A European Journal. 2018;24:10028-10031. doi:10.1002/chem.201801047