Biosynthetic life of Cannabis
Plant genome scientists Dr. Facchini and Dr. Hagel spent almost ten years to understand how some plants make drugs. Yes, plants are the best scientists; they can make drugs. Aspirin was first created from the bark of the willow tree. The plant genome is the ultimate code of how nature makes drugs. Not every plant is “coded” to be a therapeutic plant. The opium poppy is the only plant that contains instructions to make morphine and codeine, for example. Genetic instructions “embedded” in therapeutic plants, if executed in the lab, could allow producing the same drug industrially: cheaper, of higher purity, and with less environmental impact.
A hundred acres of land is required to grow plants to produce one tonne of Cannabinoid Oil ( CBD). That is nature’s method. By using biosynthesis, the same amount of CBD could be industrially produced in an 8000-liter tank.
A Calgary based biotech company, already developed CBD-producing yeast strain that can manufacture CBD isolate of highest purity and consistency. The CBD isolate may be used in the fast-growing market of CBD products. Since US de-scheduled pure CBD oil from the Controlled Substances Act, Cannabinoid biosynthetic production is a hot market. The CBD isolate is a white powder that could be added to drinks, edibles, packaged food, cosmetics, wellness products, etc.
To recognize the potential market of Cannabis products, recreational and medical, have a look at the consumer market of common stimulants: coffee, alcohol, and tobacco.
The cannabis market size is estimated to be at least the size of today’s tobacco market. By 2029, the recreational and medical Cannabis products market is estimated to grow up to $ 100 B in the US.
Willow Bioscience is creating therapeutic ingredients that previously only a plant could master. How? World-leading scientists teamed up to decipher the plant’s genome. Professor of Plant Biochemistry Dr. Facchini and Dr. Hagel from the University of Calgary have developed a process to execute nature’s code and create CBD-producing yeast strain. They teamed up with applied plant researchers focusing on Cannabis. The company was founded last year and has recently become publicly traded ( TSX.WLLW). The team is optimizing the CBD-producing yeast strain to scale up and enter the fast-growing market by 2021.
The ultimate goal is to learn and optimize Cannabis plant biosynthesis, to manufacture pure biosynthetic CBD, and eventually apply the process to other therapeutical plants. Willow Bioscience builds, optimizes CBD yeast strain to be able to produce 5 g/L by 2021.
Reinventing life is a reality. We can produce active biosynthetic pharmaceutical ingredients from sugar or other cheap raw materials in a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way.
Read more about the human Endocannabinoid system and the potential medical application of Cannabis-derived drugs.
Anna Deveaux, M.Sc. is a learner, writer, biotech investor who is interested in research translation, drug development, genetics. The writer has no position or beneficial interest in TSX.WLLW at the time of the original publication.