The industry responsible for cannabinoids from cannabis plants is highly growing. Cannabinoid extraction industries are responsible for making, edibles, portable vape cartridges, and all kinds of products possible. The extraction of cannabinoids from the cannabis plant requires several different methods. However, all these processes are resource-intensive and need large quantities of raw cannabis.
However, is it possible to extract cannabinoids without using cannabis plants? That’s the exact concept behind a groundbreaking innovation from the bioengineering firm Intrexon Corporation. The company recently announced that it had made significant upgrades in its project to produce cannabinoids with yeast.
Intrexon Corporation is a Hungarian bioengineering giant located in Budapest. By using a synthetic biology technique known as “Better DNA,” Intrexon manufactures biologically-based products for industries. They collaborate with companies to build and create technical biological systems that enhance the quality and functionality of living cells. Moreover, the company aims to develop technologies to manufacture cannabinoids for the medical marijuana industry.
However, the goal of Intrexon isn’t to develop a new cannabis strain or a new method of extracting cannabinoids from marijuana plants. They will instead use the single-cell microorganisms of the genus Saccharomyces, or yeast.
According to Intrexon, they have bioengineered a strain of yeast that generates cannabinoids for medical uses, such as CBD, THCV, and more. This means the company is utilizing the little microbes to produce cannabinoids, instead of extracting them from the cannabis plants.
The process includes fermentation. Thus, Intrexon is “brewing” cannabinoids based on a proprietary strain of microbes it created. Moreover, according to Intrexon, their DNA-engineered yeast strain is useful enough to generate different cannabinoids. These involve cannabinoids with high therapeutic indexes, but that can only be found in little amounts in the plant; therefore, this makes their commercial extraction very expensive. Plus, the process could integrate new, “designer” cannabinoids.
According to Intrexon, their cannabinoid-producing yeast has numerous benefits beyond plant-based extraction. The cannabinoid-producing yeast will reduce cost and resource consumption; furthermore, Intrexon says their microbial system can be adjusted to produce specific target cannabinoids. Chris Savile, Ph.D., Executive Director of Commercial Operations at Intrexon said through their abilities and experience; they want to optimize [yeast] strains to develop specific cannabinoids that may be commercialized in the future.
The company recently celebrated a significant milestone on the path toward that goal. A press release says that Intrexon is about to reach its goal of generating pure cannabinoids at under $1,000 per kilogram. The declaration has skyrocketed the shares of Intrexon (NYSE: XON) to about 30 percent.
The bioengineering process of cannabinoids can seem like speculative fiction, but more biotech firms are studying means to create the value of cannabis without growing the plants. Recently, the Boston-based biotech firm Gingko Bioworks, Inc. declared its ambitions to develop rare cannabinoids directly from plant DNA.
Like many cannabis cultivators, severe weather events, fires, regulatory changes, and different elements can affect the bottom line of cannabis farmers. Moreover, the medical cannabis industry constantly demands more exacting standards from cannabis products. Thus, removing the need to cultivate cannabis plants is revolutionizing the industry.