Global biotechnology company Dyadic has introduced a novel method to produce synthetic cannabinoids, the company announced on 20 January.

The company said its C1-cells have the potential to be a cost-effective way to produce pure synthetic cannabinoids for commercial use compared to conventional extraction methods using hemp and the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.

“Filamentous fungal cell factories are expected to be more environmentally friendly and less energy intensive than growing the plant and separating out the psychoactive and non-psychoactive ingredients. They may also yield cannabinoid derivatives with unexpected medical uses,” Dyadic's chief scientific officer Dr Ronen Tchelet said.

Interest in CBD and other forms of cannabinoids had widened as earlier studies had demonstrated its bioactive effects in animals and humans through numerous CBD receptor pathways, Dr Tchelet said, particularly in the immune system, which had demonstrated therapeutic effects related to inflammation in animal models.

Cannabinoids and preparations of cannabis material had recently found application as therapeutics for chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, cancer-associated nausea and vomiting, weight loss, appetite loss, spasticity, and other conditions, he added.

It had also been recently reported that two cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp varieties of cannabis – cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) – could bind to the spike protein of coronavirus, which could help prevent infection of human cells.

Conducted in collaboration with scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University and published by the Journal of Natural Products, the study also reported that CBGA and CBDA were equally effective against the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant B.1.1.7 and the beta variant B.1.351.

While synthetic cannabinoid compounds had been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the chemical synthesis was relatively costly and could involve the use of chemicals that were not environmentally friendly, Dyadic said.

Dyadic said its synthetic biology cannabinoid C1 production process had the potential to develop commercially viable biological methods of producing CBD, such as CBGA, cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), CBDA, and cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA).

“The company's C1 production platform can be used to produce a purer, regulatory compliant end product that is not only economical, but more environmentally friendly compared to conventional plant derived cannabinoid production processes,” Dyadic CEO Mark Emalfarb said.