Researchers have grown a cannabis plant with higher levels of medically important compounds, such as THC. This happened in the laboratory of Professor Alexander (Sasha) Vainstein of the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU). They created the plant in collaboration and funding from Mariana Bioscience Ltd.
Around the world, the use of the cannabis plant is gaining popularity and legitimacy as medical treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The researchers successfully increased levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive component of cannabis, by nearly 17%, and levels of CBG (cannabigerol), often referred to as the mother of all cannabinoids, by nearly 25%. Furthermore, Vainstein and his team were able to increase the ratio of terpenes responsible for maximizing the euphoric effects of marijuana by 20-30%.
Manipulating cannabis plant
The aim of the research was to find a way to alter the biochemistry in the plant to increase or decrease the production of active compounds. The researchers did this by manipulating a vegetable virus. Vainstein: “We have developed an innovative technology based on infection with a manipulated virus to get chemical reactions that increase the amounts of desired substances. In collaboration with Mariana Bioscience Ltd. we examined the infected plants and found that the levels of the substances in question had indeed increased.” This is the first time researchers have managed to achieve such a feat with cannabis plants.
Currently, much research activity is focused on identifying additional compounds in the plant. In addition to the more than 200 active ingredients that have already been identified. Until now, there was no way to tailor cannabis strains by producing certain cannabis compounds or changing the ratio between them.
“These research results will be valuable to both the industry in growing and developing new strains for medicinal cannabis users.” Vainstein added that more extensive experiments with the engineered plant are currently underway. The results should be available to the cannabis industry and further medical research in the coming months.
Source: phys.org (EN)