Escaping the Cell
Synthesizing cannabinoids without plants or cells
Charlotte Barker | | Quick Read
Researchers at UCLA have found a way to produce cannabinoids without "the vagaries of plant extraction" or the use of engineered microbes (1). Their proposed system is based on enzymatic biosynthesis – using 12 different enzymes they were able to produce cannabinoids CBGA and CBGVA from four inexpensive starting chemicals.
This method of production could have major advantages compared with extracting cannabinoids from plants, including speed, consistency, and large quantities of minor cannabinoids.
Previous attempts to make cannabinoids in this way were not commercially viable, requiring up to 25 enzymes and expensive starting materials. Though more fine-tuning is needed, the authors believe that the new process is a significant step towards cell-free cannabinoid production.
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- MA Valliere et al., Nat Chem Biol [Online ahead of print] (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41589-020-0631-9.