Canadian cannabis producer Cronos is partnering with Boston biotech firm Ginkgo Bioworks to pioneer methods of producing single cannabinoids in a bioreactor, reports Bloomberg. Ginkgo Bioworks started in biotech by producing scents for the fragrance industry using engineered yeast to produce the scent chemicals in bulk.
Ginkgo’s process is likened to brewing beer. They change the DNA of yeast so that the microorganism will produce the desired chemical in a brewing vessel. For the fragrance industry, they insert the genes for the chemical that makes a rose smell like a rose into the yeast.
“Now when you brew it up in that same brewery, instead of beer coming out, rose oil will come out. It’s cheaper, it’s not subject to weather conditions, the price isn’t all over the place, it’s not different if you grow it in Morocco or somewhere else, it’s just a much better product.” — Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, via Bloomberg
Gingko says they can do the same with individual cannabinoids like THC, CBD or even cannabinoids that exist only in tiny amounts like tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), which can suppress appetites and could help to prevent “the munchies.”
Cronos is paying Ginkgo Bioworks $22 million to fund research and development with a further $100 million in stock to be paid out in batches after certain milestones are met.
“Being able to consistently and efficiently produce high-purity cannabinoids, that’s the holy grail.” — Mike Gorenstein, CEO of Cronos, via Bloomberg