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InMed Continues to Make Significant Strides on Biosynthesis Program Development

By October 6, 2017No Comments

InMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the research and development of novel, cannabinoid-based drug therapies, announced today an update to its investors and stakeholders on the significant advancements in its proprietary technology for the microbial biosynthesis of cannabinoids.

InMed has successfully demonstrated that it can selectively produce all four “gateway” cannabinoids using genetically engineered microorganisms. These molecules can be functionalized further to produce any of the 90+ “downstream” cannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis plant. The company is actively employing this production chassis to synthesize compounds for its pharmaceutical research programs.

Eric A. Adams, President & CEO states, “Successful scale-up and commercialization of the biosynthesis process for cannabinoid production is a top priority for InMed. We are dedicating substantial resources to this project and have retained key individuals as we transition into the advanced pilot and to the commercialization phases of development. The breadth and depth of our patents, currently either submitted or being prepared for submission, will provide significant protection to the entire process.”

InMed’s biosynthesis program has resulted in two significant “firsts”:

  1. new metabolic pathway for manufacturing the terpenoid family of cannabinoid precursors that is much more robust than other microbial expression tested by InMed
  2. first ever production of any fully-assembled ‘downstream’ cannabinoids in E. coli, beginning with genetic material to produce all precursors, enzymes, and synthases

Microorganisms do not naturally produce cannabinoids. However, utilizing genetic engineering to modify their inner workings, InMed has systematically introduced the cannabis plant’s metabolic pathways into bacteria and yeast and has reported the first-of-its-kind production of downstream cannabinoids in these hosts. This development opens the gates for industrial-scale manufacturing of naturally occurring cannabinoids and is a quantum advance over existing manufacturing platforms such as direct extraction from cannabis or chemical synthesis. The former is quite encumbered, time-consuming and low-yielding, whereas chemical synthesis is especially challenging and expensive due to the complexity of these molecules. InMed, in consultation with industry experts, has concluded that microbial biosynthesis is superior to both approaches.

Superior to plant-sourced cannabinoids, biosynthesis is less time-consuming and less expensive, eliminating the need for planting, growing, harvesting and extracting. There are also economic and environmental savings such as substantially reduced resource requirements versus plant-sourcing (water, electricity, manpower, etc.). Furthermore, the growing process has several hard-to-remove impurities (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers), potentially presenting significant safety issues. As with all crops, yield fluctuations present an additional risk. Only 2-3 cannabinoids can be extracted from the plant in sufficient quantities to make the process economically viable.

Adams adds, “The biosynthesis process opens up access to drug discovery and therapeutic use of all 90+ cannabinoids, most of which occur in only trace amounts in the plant and cannot be extracted in an economical fashion.”

InMed plans the following next steps for this promising technology:

  • Continue to generate new patents for the biosynthesis process leading to ‘gateway’ and ‘downstream’ cannabinoids
  • Optimize and validate system performance criteria with the pilot scale facility at University of British Columbia
  • Produce at pilot scale several downstream cannabinoids at pharmaceutical-grade purity
  • Scale-up the pilot production methods to commercial-size facility together with external vendors with extensive biosynthesis expertise
  • Optimize the commercial system to maximize quantities while minimizing time/cost