Pretty soon you might be able to leave farms and hydroponic greenhouses behind. In the future, the best flower and concentrate might soon come out of a petri dish.
Scientists at the University of Berkley announced a breakthrough Wednesday, saying they had successfully grown cannabinoids in a lab using yeast, no plant required.
Using a technique known as “synthetic biology” the researchers made themselves batches of both THC and CBD.
“There could be whole host of new products that could come from this,” Jay Keasling, a UC Berkeley bioengineer who led the study, told Business Insider.
If lab-grown cannabinoids become larger scale, they might be preferable to producers and consumers for many reasons, including a higher yield for less money and a more eco-friendly production process.
While scientists have been trying to crack the nut of cannabinoid-yielding yeast for some time, researchers were able to clear a hurdle by finding the right cannabis DNA to alter yeast genes and produce a cannabinoid “precursor” to CBD and THC. The precursor was then turned into the desired compounds.
“This is a critical step in the pathway that no one’s had until this point,” Keasling said.
Not surprisingly, some big spenders with deep pockets are interested in the development of this new technology. Keasling has been able to secure $11 million for his startup Demetrix from a venture capital fund lead by Horizon Ventures. Horizon previously backed such landmark products as the Impossible Burger and Siri, the Apple virtual assistant.
The next step is for Keasling and company is to try to scale up their operation, making larger batches while keeping costs lower than traditional grow methods. They’re also planning to focus on creating some of the other beneficial cannabinoids found in marijuana including THCV.
Photo via Flickr user soapbeard