Hashish processing startups hope to unlock new chemical compounds and coverings – TechCrunch

Jeff Ubersax is aware of yeast.

The chief government officer of Demetrix studied yeast genetics and biochemistry in class and was an early worker at Amyris Biotechnologies, a expertise firm that was utilizing fermentation to make biofuels again within the early days of the primary clear expertise growth again in 2008. 

Now, the identical expertise that Ubersax and Jay Keasling, the celebrated professor from the College of California at Berkeley who co-founded Amyris and Demetrix, used to make biofuels is being utilized to the manufacturing of hashish.

The corporate launched with an $11 million seed spherical led by Horizons Ventures, a Hong Kong-based funding fund backed by the multi-billionaire actual property mogul Li Ka-shing, to start commercializing the expertise that Keasling had been researching in his lab.

The objective was to refine a course of that might allow yeasts to make a variety of cannabinoids which can be discovered within the marijuana plant which may very well be used to develop new prescribed drugs, components and dietary supplements to be used in medical and shopper functions. The expertise works a lot the identical method as brewing beer. Besides as a substitute of fermenting to supply alcohol, the fermentation course of produces cannabinoids from genetically modified yeast cells.

Whereas the expertise holds promise, it’s nonetheless obtained an extended approach to go earlier than it turns into aggressive with extracts from the marijuana plant, however given new capital infusions the tide is popping.

Demetrix, as an example, has raised one other $50 million from Horizons Ventures and Tuatara Capital, an funding agency centered on the authorized hashish trade, to considerably increase its manufacturing whereas concurrently pursuing preliminary checks on the efficacy of uncommon strains of cannabinoids as remedies for sure diseases.

“Pure cannabinoids have been used for a extremely very long time,” says Ubersax. And final June the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration authorized the primary pharmaceutical derived from hashish, Epidiolex, as a remedy for sufferers with epilepsy.

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