Novateur Knows the Cannabinoid Biosynthesis Landscape

Cannabis, medical marijuana, THC, CBD – we hear these terms tossed around just about everywhere – on the street, over social media, in corporate boardrooms, throughout the biotech sector. What’s all the fuss about? The marijuana plant has been exploited for medicinal, agricultural and psychotropic properties for thousands of years but it was only in the mid-1900s that THC (∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) were isolated and chemically defined in their acid forms as the two major cannabinoids in the Cannabis plant. Since then many additional minor cannabinoids (at least 60) with untapped medical potential have been isolated and characterized. THC and CBD possess clinically validated, beneficial properties and are approved (FDA, Health Canada, etc) for use in some countries (e.g. THC for anorexia and AIDS-associated weight loss, and CBD for two rare genetic forms of epilepsy). With legalization in Canada and at the State level in USA, R&D is ramping up to define further medical benefits of THC, CBD and the minor cannabinoids in many other disorders and in the general wellness market. The Future is Biosynthesis: Currently, THC and CBD are chemically synthesized or extracted directly from the Cannabis plant. These procedures suffer from drawbacks (see below). They will be supplanted over the next few years by another cost-effective method of preparation – biosynthesis (also known as synthetic biology). Biosynthesis is an enzyme-catalyzed process whereby simple substrates are transformed into more complex products in living microorganisms or cells. Biosynthesis affords the opportunity to revolutionize the industry with highly standardized, pharmaceutical-grade, cheap cannabinoids. In contrast, plant-extracted cannabinoids currently suffer from a number of economic and environmental downsides in production:...