A NEW partnership between the University of Newcastle and a Hunter-based medicinal cannabis company aims to "unleash the full potential" of the cannabis plant and develop new, lower cost treatments.
CannaPacific has teamed up with University of Newcastle researchers and Xing Technologies to use "cutting edge" techniques to engineer new varieties of medicinal cannabis that contain higher amounts of promising "novel cannabinoids".
"There is over 100 cannabinoids in the plant, and many are still yet to be exploited," CannaPacific chief executive Joshua Dennis said.
"THC and CBD are there in the highest quantities, but there is a whole gamut of other cannabinoids in the plant in really low quantities.
"We are trying to find new varieties that are high in these minor cannabinoids - that have already been shown to have some positive benefits. But, currently, they are really hard to extract because they are in such low quantities.
"Our research is focusing on linking the underlying plant genetics to develop high-yielding cannabis varieties with these novel cannabinoid profiles."
Mr Dennis said they hoped the research would lead to finding new medicines to help treat unmet needs.
Ultimately, the lower cost of production would also mean lower-cost medicines for patients.
The biotechnology company expects the project to be one of the most advanced medical cannabis genomic breeding programs in the world.
Professor Christopher Grof, director of the University of Newcastle's Centre for Plant Science, said through the development of genetic markers, they could identify specific parts of the plant genome that were significant, and select which plants to incorporate into the breeding program to combine "desirable traits" - such as specific cannabinoid profiles and yield. Through a collaboration with the biotechnology company Xing Technologies, the team have the ability to fast track the identification of molecular markers which would help drive the development of new low-cost formulations of medicinal cannabis products. No cannabis plants would be kept on-site at the university.
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