The game has changed.
THC and CBD Born From Yeast
Biochemists at the Technical University of Dortmund (Germany) just engineered a strain of yeast that produces 9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). They have also created a yeast strain that can make cannabidiol (CBD), but this data hasn’t been published yet.
We have been producing synthetic versions of THC for years, selling them as Marion or Cesamet pills. This genetically modified yeast would provide a far easier and more importantly cheaper way to produce THC pills.
Synthetic THC pills are normally used to treat nausea and loss of appetite due to chemotherapy or H.I.V. Currently these pills are quite expensive, and there is a long chemical process involved in creating synthetic THC, a more natural alternative would no doubt be appreciated.
Researchers are still working to make the process even more efficient. Right now, the yeast cannot fully replicate the THC production pathway, relying on precursor molecules from donor plants. They remain quite optimistic that a bio engineered strain of yeast will be able to fully replicate the THC production pathway with nothing more than simple sugars.
Potentially Changing Millions of Lives
Chief executive of Hyasynth Bio, Kevin Chen told a NY Times reporter “This is something that could literally change the lives of millions of people,”. Once the last few kinks are worked out of course.
The researchers recently teamed up with THC Pharm, a bioengineering company that will help them scale up and industrialize the process. Potentially offering patients a profoundly cheaper alternative to the existing chemically synthesized options.
We Already Have A Cheap Option for THC
But does any of this really even matter? We already have marijuana that yields upwards of 30% THC. It literally grows out of the ground, at a staggering rate!
The reason this research is so important, is because it will help to overcome the obstacles of marijuana prohibition. Without needing the cannabis plant to provide patients with THC and CBD pills, it eliminates the stigma.
Governments seem to be more willing to support a medicine that is born in a laboratory as opposed to one born in nature.