Latest in Tomorrow

Image credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Researchers genetically modify yeast to ‘brew’ THC and CBD

They hope the easier production method will speed up medical research.
685 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Scientists in California have created a cheaper, safer, environmentally-friendly way to produce cannabinoids, the chemical compounds that give cannabis its many medicinal (and mind-altering) qualities. The trick is in using genetically modified brewer's yeast to produce cannabinoids, rather than ethanol, according to research published today by the University of California, Berkeley.

The researchers identified more than a dozen genes -- including many used by the cannabis plant to synthesize cannabinoids -- and inserted them into the yeast. The genes create enzymes that start a series of chemical reactions, and in a process much like brewing beer, those reactions turn sugar into cannabigerolic acid. From that, a long list of cannabinoids can be produced, including THC and CBD, the latter of which you can now find touted as a cure-all at your local gas station.

In all seriousness, CBD, or cannabidiol, is used to treat childhood epileptic seizures and may potentially treat Parkinson's disease, chronic pain, anxiety and more. THC is now in FDA-approved medications for chemotherapy-induced nausea and to improve appetite in AIDS patients. But medical marijuana research has been slowed by the fact that the more than 100 other chemicals in the plant occur in small quantities. The scientists behind this new, genetically-modified yeast say it could speed up production of these chemicals, theoretically advancing the pace of cannabinoid research and pharma development.

Several other chemicals and drugs are already produced using genetically modified yeast. Those include human growth hormone, insulin and blood clotting factors, and yeast production comes with many benefits. In this case, the yeast requires less water than cannabis, and it can be produced without the pesticides, fertilizers and energy-zapping lights and ventilation systems often used in the plant's cultivation.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
685 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

View
Bloomberg: Apple plans to launch TV+ in November for $10 a month

Bloomberg: Apple plans to launch TV+ in November for $10 a month

View
Amazon unveils trailer for third season of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’

Amazon unveils trailer for third season of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’

View
San Francisco’s 25-year-old FogCam shuts down this month

San Francisco’s 25-year-old FogCam shuts down this month

View
You can finally get PowerBeats Pro in colors other than black

You can finally get PowerBeats Pro in colors other than black

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr