Science 2 min read

Scientists Produce Cannabis Compounds Using Yeast

This new process could make it faster and cheaper than ever to produce cannabis compounds. ¦ Michael Fischer / Pexels

This new process could make it faster and cheaper than ever to produce cannabis compounds. ¦ Michael Fischer / Pexels

California researchers have discovered a new method of creating cannabis compounds out of yeast, making it easier, cheaper, and safer to synthesize.

Synthetic biologists from the University of California, Berkeley have successfully created cannabis compounds in their laboratory using a new breakthrough method that could alter the future of the pharmaceutical industry.

In their study, published in the journal Nature, the scientists reported that they engineered brewer’s yeast to generate the key ingredients of marijuana: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

The team reported that their method would allow for a cheaper and easier way of producing cannabinoids, a far cry from today’s approaches of growing and extracting it from marijuana plants.

Faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and one of the researchers, Jay Keasling, commented saying:

“For the consumer, the benefits are high-quality, low-cost CBD and THC: you get exactly what you want from yeast. It is a safer, more environmentally friendly way to produce cannabinoids.”

Producing Cannabis Compounds Using Yeast

To date, THC and  CBD are ingredients in many consumer products like vapes, cosmetics, and medicines.

THC is a high-inducing compound that is now legal in 10 U.S. States and the District of Columbia. The pharmaceutical industry also use the drug for a number of ailments including appetite regulation and glaucoma.

CBD is mostly used in cosmetic products but is also effective at treating childhood epilepsy. Numerous studies are also focusing on if CBD could be a viable treatment for other illnesses like chronic pain and anxiety.

Cannabis compounds like THC are currently being used to treat illnesses
Cannabis compounds like THC are currently being used to treat illnesses | Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, studying the benefits of THC and CBD is quite challenging for scientists as marijuana plants produce these chemicals in tiny quantities. Keasling believes that their discovery could make cannabinoid studies easier for researchers.

To make synthetic cannabis, the team altered the metabolism of yeast to convert sugar into other chemicals instead of alcohol. Then, they added an enzyme called CsPT4 to turn the chemicals into cannabis compounds like CBD and THC.

Aside from CBD and THC, the researchers also produced two other natural cannabinoids: cannabidivarin (CBDV) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

“The economics look really good. The cost is competitive or better than that for the plant-derived cannabinoids. And manufacturers don’t have to worry about contamination — for example, THC in CBD — that would make you high.”

Read More: How the Public Image Tide On Cannabis Finally Turned

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Rechelle Ann Fuertes

Rechelle is the current Managing Editor of Edgy. She's an experienced SEO content writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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