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Cannabis Researchers Seek to Unlock the Healing Power of Pot September 5, 2021
Cannabis Researchers Seek to Unlock the Healing Power of Pot

Lygos produces CBG for an acne treatment from skin care brand High Beauty. HELYNN OSPINA FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Cannabis, the leafy group of plants including marijuana and hemp, is best known for the THC that gets people high. But cannabis can contain many other chemicals. Products with the non-intoxicating compound CBD, for example, have proliferated over the past five years. Now, pharmaceutical makers, product researchers and investors are wondering, what else do the plants have to offer?Scientists say there are at least a hundred cannabinoids, a class of organic compounds found primarily in cannabis and often abbreviated to three or four letters.

THC and CBD are abundant, and the Food and Drug Administration has already approved them in some forms. But many other compounds may have therapeutic effects, and not every plant produces every cannabinoid.

Rare and intriguing compounds like CBM and CBD-V would require years of strategic breeding of plants to create a stable and inexpensive supply chain.

Researchers say a technique known as biological synthesis, a method that involves engineering yeast, algae or bacteria to produce compounds in a fermentation tank, will allow them to quickly generate molecules without the expense and complexity of growing hemp or marijuana plants.

This technology could fundamentally alter the way cannabis products are sourced and consumed -- and possibly help unlock the plant's potential as a source of medical therapies, say scientists.

Early studies show that cannabigerol, or CBG, for example, holds promise as a treatment for neurological disorders such as Huntington's disease.

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