Cannabis-producing medications have long been illegal, which has piqued experts‘ interest. That is beginning to change, and science is looking into how it can obtain suitable compounds without producing plants.
Cannabis has been used as a medicinal and narcotic for millennia, and it is being reintroduced into modern medicine. Medical cannabis use has already been allowed in several countries, and pharmaceutical companies are experimenting with cannabis compounds known as cannabinoids.
They are particularly interested in delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the key chemical responsible for cannabis’ narcotic effects. Cannabidiol (abbreviated CBD) is also not of interest because it is not a narcotic.
A balanced blend of pure THC and CBD, for example, has recently been demonstrated to reduce muscle cramping in individuals with neurodegenerative disorders. On the other hand, Pure CBD reduces seizures in people with certain mental conditions. It is not to be confused with “raw” THC-containing marijuana, which raises the risk of attacks.
Cannabis has dozens of fascinating compounds found in trace levels in this plant and whose effects on the human body are unknown. Part of the scarcity of information on cannabis and cannabinoids is that some cultivars with higher drug content are prohibited from being grown.
Gene transfer success
Even here, however, there is a notable shift. Reading the whole hereditary information of three types of cannabis was quite beneficial. The researchers studied the genomes of the Finola variety, which is grown for oilseeds, and the DNA of the USO 31 variety, which has minimal cannabinoids and is developed for textile fibers, in addition to marijuana cannabis with a high THC concentration.
It is inefficient to grow cannabis for THC and other cannabinoids, and these chemicals are found primarily in fine hairs or trichomes that grow on the surface of leaves and flowers in plants.
THC and similar compounds are found in trace amounts in most plant matter. On the other hand, Hemp is the only plant known to produce THC. Thus it’s grown all over the world. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime admits that “the extent and trends in cannabis cultivation, marijuana, and hashish manufacturing are difficult to estimate.” Cannabis cultivation has been prohibited for a long time.
In the war against drugs, many local variations were killed. Illegal growers have mostly focused on plants with high THC content, subsequently vegetatively propagated.
Today, cannabis grown in various parts of the world is genetically similar, and plants can be termed clones. These are why scientists are working to develop cannabinoids for medical use without the need to cultivate cannabis.
The accomplishment of transferring the genes needed to produce cannabinoids from cannabis to yeast was recently reported in the scientific journal Nature by a team led by Jay Keasling of the University of California, Berkeley. When yeast is grown in bioreactors, it produces THC and CBD, and a variety of additional compounds.
Yeast can transform compounds that do not contain cannabis into new sorts of cannabinoids that no terrestrial plant can make.
At least some of these chemicals will be employed in the treatment of critical disorders. Other research groups have successfully transferred the genes for cannabis’ “production line” to bacteria or algae’s genetic information.
Biotechnological cannabis production methods offer a significant reduction in producer pricing, among other things. While a kilo of pure THC separated from cannabis can cost upwards of $5,000, the cost of THC and other cannabinoids produced by yeast should be less than $1,000 per kilo.