Is it possible to bioengineer cannabis to either eliminate THC production completely or increase it to higher levels?
One biotech company from Fort Wayne, Indiana, has found a way to do just that.
After previous success, Growing Together Research Inc. (GTR), is broadening its research and product development capabilities to alter the expression of THC in cannabis Sativa.
Earlier this year, the company confirmed it had achieved the first known stable transformation and regeneration of multiple THC-hemp cultivars via its partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. The results revealed validated gene edits that are expected to eliminate or nearly eliminate the production of THC and cannabichromene, as well as boost the expression of cannabidiol (CBD).
Hemp Farming Will Benefit
These modified cultivators are expected to reach the market in the fourth quarter of 2022. The main goal behind the transformations is to help hemp farmers manage the risk of their crop going “hot,” that is containing more than 0.3% of THC, a problem that can cause them legal repercussions, including having their crop destroyed.
Same Techniques Can Boost THC
Relying on the demonstrated ability to turn down gene coding for THC expression, GTR is applying the same techniques to turn THC expression up. The company has teamed up with Canada-based academic and commercial partners to create cannabis cultivars with much higher levels of THC. The first batch of high THC cultivars is expected by the third quarter of 2023.
Benzinga wanted to learn more so we reached out to GTR's founder and CEO Samuel E. Proctor, the company's COO Dimitri Samaratunga and Nick Ainslie, MSc, VP of business development.
“We expect the THC silenced hemp plant to have zero or near-zero percentage values of THC,” Samaratunga told Benzinga.
The scientific ability to adjust THC expression up and down is referred to as the “Delta-9 Dial” and represents a considerable leap forward in the stable gene editing of the cannabis plant.
Benzinga asked if this is a proprietary process.
“Yes, GTR uses proprietary, patent-pending biotechnology and processes when working with partners to help them achieve commercial goals with respect to their cultivars,” Proctor confirmed.
What Happens With CBD When There Is Zero THC?
“Let’s briefly outline the pathway that creates THC, which will help illustrate the other changes …