THC, CBD produced in a lab from yeast

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University of California at Berkeley scientists have made a major breakthrough

The cannabis industry is about to make a huge leap forward. Scientists with the University of California at Berkeley have been successful at creating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in the lab. If they are able to reproduce the results on a large scale, it could ultimately lead to the production of the therapeutic components of the two cannabinoids at a fraction of the cost associated with current cultivation methods.

Using synthetic biology, the scientists were able to genetically engineer yeast to produce a key cannabis component that leads to the development of both THC and CBD. Through that component, they were then able to produce the two best-known compounds themselves.

The researchers published their findings in the Nature journal, pointing out how the process could also be used to produce lesser-known cannabis compounds at much lower prices. Many of the compounds found in cannabis have health and wellness benefits, but most are too difficult to extract using conventional methods.

Synthetic biology is associated with the modification of the basic DNA structure of something such as yeast to produce another product. It has already been seen in areas such as biodegradable building materials and food sweeteners and could have a substantial impact on companies’ abilities to incorporate cannabis compounds into their products, making production more efficient and greatly reducing costs.

Producing results in a lab and producing them on a large scale are two different scenarios. The researchers are now working to show whether or not large-scale production is feasible and, if it is, the cannabis landscape could change forever.


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