Biosynthesis refers to the natural process by which living organisms use enzymes to convert one material into another material. For example, beer is produced when certain strains of yeast, namely saccharomyces cerevisiae, convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Through strain and enzyme engineering, scientists are able to harness the power of nature by providing microorganisms, such as yeasts, algae, and bacteria, with specific enzymes to produce novel compounds that these microorganisms cannot produce on their own.
This technology, often referred to as Biosynthesis, Cellular Agriculture or Microbial Fermentation, is a very well established technology being used today to produce a range of ingredients found in medications and consumer products, including insulin, biofuels, collagen, squalane, vanilla, citric acid, flavours, and fragrances.
More recently, biosynthesis is being used to sustainably produce high-purity cannabinoids that are identical to those produced by nature and completely free of the environmental pathogens, pesticides, heavy metals, and unwanted compounds that are unfortunately present in many plant-derived cannabinoid extracts. This has been achieved by providing microorganisms with the same enzymes and other “machinery” that the plant uses as part of its metabolic pathway for producing CBD and other cannabinoids.
Biosynthesis is revolutionizing the cannabinoid industry as a cleaner, faster, and better way to produce cannabinoids. Unlike the cannabis plant, biosynthesis can be used to consistently produce very large quantities of high-purity cannabinoid ingredients that do not contain any of the contaminants commonly found in plant extracts.
Because biosynthesis requires less land mass compared to agriculture, and since the fermentation process takes up to 10 days compared to 90 days for growing a plant, biosynthesis is recognized as being a more resource efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative to farming. Perhaps most exciting is the potential that biosynthesis presents for unlocking the minor cannabinoids, which still remain inaccessible for research due to their very low concentrations within plant material.
Cannabinoids are a group of compounds that interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoids can be classified as endogenous (produced naturally by the body) or exogenous (not produced by the body).
Examples of endogenous cannabinoids include anandamide (AEA) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), while examples of exogenous cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) which are produced predominantly by hemp and cannabis plants belonging to the species Cannabis sativa L.
These exogenous cannabinoids are sometimes referred to as phytocannabinoids since they are produced by plants. However, thanks to science these same cannabinoids can now be produced by yeast, algae, and bacteria using a process known as biosynthesis.
Cannabinoids, including endogenous cannabinoids and exogenous/phytocannabinoids, exert their effects by acting on various receptors in the human body. However, their classic mechanism of action involves modulation of the endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 that belong to the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
While scientists are still learning about how the ECS works, our current understanding is that ECS is involved in the regulation of a range of physiological processes, including immune response, mood, memory, sleep, pain, motor function, as well as cellular activities related to metabolism and communication. By turning the endocannabinoid receptors “on” or “off”, cannabinoids like CBD and CBG can modulate a range of physiological processes regulated by the ECS.
Certain cannabinoids have also been shown to act on other receptors outside of the ECS, such as the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A or the capsaicin receptor TRPV1, which further explains why they have such a wide range of effects.
Cannabinoids are reportedly being used for a variety of reasons related to health and wellness. While there are only a few approved pharmaceutical drugs that contain cannabinoids, consumers are turning to cannabinoids like CBD to help with their sleep, mood, pain, and inflammation. Certain cannabinoids like CBD and CBG also provide antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects, which has potential benefits for skincare.
More research is needed to fully understand their complete range of effects, and how other “rare” cannabinoids like cannabichromene (CBC) or cannabicyclol (CBL) can be used.
Cannabinoids have made their way into a variety of consumer and medicinal products. Traditionally, cannabinoids were consumed by smoking dried flower from the plant species Cannabis sativa L. Given the health risks associated with smoking, ingestible and topical products such as edibles, beverages, softgels, and creams are now available that are formulated with cannabinoid-rich extracts.
Biosynthesis is also being used to sustainably produce cannabinoids that are identical to those found in nature and completely free of residual solvents, environmental pathogens, heavy metals, and other unwanted compounds like THC that are commonly found in plant-extracts. Thanks to biosynthesis, consumers can have faith that their cannabinoid products are safe, compliant, and of the highest quality possible.
The term “phytocannabinoid” means any cannabinoid produced by a plant. Cannabis Sativa L. is the main plant species that produces phytocannabinoids like CBD and CBG. However, thanks to science these same cannabinoids can now be produced by yeast, algae, and bacteria using a process known as biosynthesis.
CBD in its pure form is not a controlled drug in the United Kingdom, however a different regulatory environment exists depending on whether it is synthetic or grown, and the type of product it is included in. In addition, grown CBD gives rise to additional considerations under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Our development process focuses on leveraging the most reliable scientific data on the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids and other ingredients to inform our formulation decisions. We use this data to understand how to effectively formulate cannabinoids into different products with complementary ingredients so that they provide specific benefits to the consumer. In areas where limited data is available, we work with leading research groups to find answers unique to how our products work and their safety.
We’ve also teamed up with industry-leading manufacturing partners who have experience working with premium consumer products. By working with these groups, we are able to draw upon their expertise and deliver premium cannabinoid products that feel good and are good for you.
Testing is an integral part of our development process. We work closely with our ingredient suppliers, manufacturing partners, and accredited third-party labs to ensure that our products are formulated with the best ingredients possible and tested to the highest standards. Our development process includes stability testing at different temperatures to ensure the shelf-life of our products. We also conduct packaging compatibility assessments to validate that our packaging solutions are effective in maintaining the integrity of our products and functional in administering them for use.
Cellular Goods’ products would be suitable for athletes as they do not contain residual contaminants that may affect drug testing results.
World Anti-Doping Agency WADA recently clarified in its 2020 Prohibited List that pure CBD is not a prohibited substance for competitive athletes, but notes specifically that ‘athletes should be aware that some CBD products extracted from cannabis plants may also contain THC that could result in a positive test for a prohibited cannabinoid’.