Synthesized cannabinoids could help fill today’s market gap for rare cannabinoids and provide a chance to produce cheaper formulations that enrich the commoditized CBD segment.
By Natan Ponieman
Much of cannabis’ disruptive potential lies in the plant’s ability to produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD. When it comes to rare cannabinoids, however, a different approach might yield better results.
Scientists have found alternative ways of producing cannabinoids that don’t require the cannabis plant. These methods are currently in commercial production, and have the potential to change the entire market for less common cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, THCV and THCA.
By adding genes from cannabis into the yeast fungi, biosynthesis companies can have yeast produce a vast number of compounds in the laboratory, including cannabinoids.
Take BioMediCan Inc. The company uses “a unique pathway” and “a unique yeast for production,” says Biomedican CEO and molecular biologist Maxim Mikheev. Meet Cannabinoid Biosynthesis Biomedican has developed a biosynthesis platform to produce rare cannabinoids and other high value compounds.
“We’re not competing with anybody that’s in that grow, harvest, extract and purify business,” says Biomedican CIO Dennis O’Neill.
The biotech company uses a genetically-modified, proprietary version of yeast to produce cannabinoids without the need for cannabis plants. The resulting cannabinoids are said to be bio-identical to the molecules that can be found in nature.
“We produce 99% pharmaceutical grade products,” says O’Neill. While the method used by Biomedican employs GMO yeast, the final product does not contain any of it, which is why the company can claim its cannabinoids are organic and GMO-free. Rare Cannabinoids: A Booming Market According to Ethan Russo, CEO of Credo Science and former medical advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals, minor cannabinoids will be of “vital research and therapeutic interest in future years.”
Phytocannabinoids beyond THC and CBD are miles behind in terms of research investment, but the evidence to date is extremely encouraging with respect to promising developments in treating cancer, autoimmune diseases and a wide variety of other disorders, he explained.