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Marijuana Compounds Brewed Using Yeast By Canadian Biotech Firms

Robert Celt

New Member
New medical marijuana products produced by yeast could soon be on the market, the co-founder of a biotech company says. That could potentially lead to a wider range of cannabinoid-based drugs that proponents say could be more effective for treating certain medical conditions than medical marijuana itself.

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in marijuana. Kevin Chen's Montreal-based company, Hyasynth, has successfully made the cannabinoid cannabigerol (CBG) from genetically engineered yeast, and he says this could be a precursor to other major and minor cannabinoids.

The appropriate use of medical marijuana has been a controversial topic, with many arguing that further research is needed to evaluate its efficacy as a treatment for a variety of ailments.

In Canada, where the Liberal government has said it will legalize marijuana, medical marijuana is already used to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms, including lack of appetite in people with HIV/AIDS and nausea in those undergoing cancer treatment.

The most well-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrolcannabinol, or THC, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat nausea and improve appetite. It's found in large amounts in marijuana plants, which is the reason why medical marijuana is often prescribed to treat nausea and increase appetite.

But other cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) may have the potential to be potent treatments for other conditions as well. CBG also has its own medical properties. But it can also be easily chemically converted into other cannabinoids, including THC.

Hyasynth's researchers aren't the only ones working to brew cannabinoids using yeast. In a paper published in Biotechnology Letters in December, German biochemists announced they had genetically engineered yeast to produce THC.

And another Canadian firm, Anandia Labs, is well on its way toward brewing its own yeast-produced cannabinoids.

Chen says genes from marijuana are inserted into the yeast genome, where they produce the enzymes that create the cannabinoid. Before insertion, the yeast's metabolic systems are engineered "to get it to produce your molecules instead of its own molecules."

Yeast-produced cannabinoids could yield some impressive advantages in the pharmacological world.

Perhaps most exciting is the ability to isolate different compounds for study and treatment of particular diseases. Cannabinoids found in very small concentrations in marijuana plants could also be produced in more potent dosages.

"Marijuana produces lots and lots of THC, and lots and lots of another compound called CBD, but it also isn't a very good source of some of the minor cannabinoids," says Jonathan Page, CEO of Anandia Labs and a University of British Columbia botany professor.

Cost efficiencies?

Chen says growing cannabinoids using yeast is more efficient than artificial chemical synthesis. (Artificially produced THC pills are already on the market).

"Natural molecule production is done pretty well by nature, and so we're working with that as a basis as opposed to just trying to produce things straight from petroleum starting materials or something like that."

It's been suggested that producing cannabinoids through yeast could have a lower production cost than other methods, but Page says that's still up for debate.

"We don't have enough real data to support the fact that fermentation would be cheaper than chemical synthesis or plant production, so I can't really say that's going to be a clear advantage."

Chen says cannabinoid-producing yeast yields more consistent results than marijuana plants, even specialized strains. Factors like when a plant is harvested and how much light and water it gets can affect its drug profile.

"Maybe you're growing the same strain twice on two different occasions and maybe there's a slight difference in the temperature and that results in a big difference in the end product."

Still a place for plants

As beneficial as isolated cannabinoids may be, marijuana plants still have their place.

"Plants are some of the cheapest chemical production systems on the planet," says Page.

With just soil, water and light, you can grow a plant that can be made of 25 per cent or more, by dry weight, of the major chemical compounds like THC and CBD, he says.

"The other advantage is that plants are very easily scalable," he says, "in the sense that if you can grow two plants, you can grow a million plants ... it's just a matter of planting more. Whereas scaling up in biotech systems like yeast fermentation can be quite technically challenging."

With momentum for increased medical marijuana research building, Chen says that in the near future, "you're going to see a lot more attention being paid towards these kinds of drugs."

His company is currently looking for potential commercial partners who can help get Hyasynth's products to market. He acknowledged they would have to tested and approved by regulators before hitting store shelves. Still, he believes all that could happen within the next year.

The federal government is currently reviewing its medical marijuana distribution regulations after a judge struck down a law mandating that cannabis be distributed only by licensed providers through the mail.



News Moderator: Robert Celt 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Marijuana Compounds Brewed Using Yeast By Canadian Biotech Firms
Author: Jillian Bell
Contact: CBC News
Photo Credit: Emily Chung
Website: CBC News
 

FuzzyNugz

New Member
Don't really know what to think of this. If people want a natural remedy to cure their ailments why would they go this route? I understand the importance of consistency and effectiveness, but cannabis is not solely about one compound , it's about how all those compounds interact. Some are stiffs about synthetic fertilizers, I don't pretend to totally understand the process described here, but it does not sound natural.


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Richard Richardson

Moderator
420 Staff
This is just fancy fermentation.

Yeasts normally eat sugars, pee out alcohol and fart out little bubbles of CO2.

These guys have re-engineered the genes of a species of yeast, hence changing its toilet habits.

Now these little yeasts are pooping out cannabinoids.

They can poop out cannabinoids that our beloved herb only makes in tiny quantities.
 

FuzzyNugz

New Member
I do understand the process of fermentation, so what are they eating in place of the normal sugar?


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Robert Celt

New Member
Just to expand on what Richard noted, unlike THC and CBD, many of the cannabinoids in cannabis are produced in such low quantities that extracting them for study requires enormous amounts of the plant and then they have to separate the various compounds.

With this technique, they are able to produce larger quantities of a single compound with no need to separate it from other compounds, making it easier to study the properties of that compound.

This will allow researchers to determine if a certain cannabinoid like CBG or CBN, if in greater concentration would be of benefit. And if so, then it would be reason to try breeding plants with greater concentrations of these cannabinoids.

RC
 

FuzzyNugz

New Member
Just to expand on what Richard noted, unlike THC and CBD, many of the cannabinoids in cannabis are produced in such low quantities that extracting them for study requires enormous amounts of the plant and then they have to separate the various compounds.

With this technique, they are able to produce larger quantities of a single compound with no need to separate it from other compounds, making it easier to study the properties of that compound.

This will allow researchers to determine if a certain cannabinoid like CBG or CBN, if in greater concentration would be of benefit. And if so, then it would be reason to try breeding plants with greater concentrations of these cannabinoids.

RC
Got it!


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