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How Are Biosynthesized Cannabinoids Different From Synthetics?

April 13, 2021 10:30 am ET
How Are Biosynthesized Cannabinoids Different From Synthetics?

As much as cannabis has made exceptional progress on the political front, so have the advancements in science and research. BioMediCan is a biotech company, which means that its products are from the extraction or manipulation of living organisms. The company recently announced that it has designed what is explained as “patented low-cost methods of growing high-value compounds at scale with proprietary yeasts” and have “successfully biosynthesized rare cannabinoid THCV” among other rare cannabinoids.

This sounds great, but what are biosynthesized cannabinoids, and can we expect the same differences between biosynthesized and botanical cannabinoids as we did for synthetic and botanical cannabinoids? Let’s dive in.

What Exactly Is Biosynthesis?

Science Direct defines biosynthesis as “the production of all plant secondary metabolites: alkaloids, bitters, glycosides, gums, saponins, steroids, and essential oil compounds. While Biology Online describes biosynthesis as “the production of a complex chemical compound from simpler precursors in a living organism, usually involving enzymes (to catalyze the reaction) and energy (such as adenosine triphosphate-ATP).”

Lumen Learning defines biosynthesis as “an enzyme-catalyzed process in cells of living organisms by which substrates are converted to more complex products.” All of this may sound confusing, but they are basically explaining that the creation of an organic compound is being conducted in a living organism (which is the yeast in this case). A catalyst is an agent that simply speeds up the reaction; in this case, it is through helpful enzymes.

THCV Briefly Explained

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a psychoactive compound (cannabinoid). THCV, or THCVA, shares a similar molecular structure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and so shares some of its properties. The only difference between the two is that there is a 3-carbon group instead of a 5-carbon group. The number tells you the elongation of the hydrocarbon which consists of hydrogens bound to carbon. Despite seemingly being a derivative of THC, THCV has been found to offer a sort of “combination” between cannabidiol (CBD) and THC. Similar to CBD, THCV can reduce the intoxicating or severe effects of THC.

The medical benefits, or therapeutic properties, of THCV, include: inducing feelings of motivation, alertness, energy, and euphoria, suppressing the appetite (as opposed to THC’s appetite stimulation), alleviating stress and anxiety, acting as a neuroprotective agent, promoting bone growth, and regulating blood sugar levels.

THCV has become one of the most sought-after cannabinoids despite being so rare. Maxim Mikheev, BioMediCan’s CEO, stated that “the nutraceutical, CBD, health food, and cosmetics markets are beginning to understand the significant health benefits of THCV/THCVA. This allows them to differentiate themselves from crowded marketplaces and, more importantly, deliver healthier products.”

More on BioMediCan and Their Biosynthesized Cannabinoids

When professionals begin to alter or create things in a laboratory, consumers should be cautious of them, as most man-made therapeutics and medication are accompanied by adverse side effects. Despite the fact that BioMedican was working in a laboratory, they managed to do away with such stigma, as their products are pharmaceutical-grade, 100% organic, non-GMO, and bioidentical to the molecules naturally occurring in nature. On top of such a win for manipulating living organisms, the production of this biosynthesized rare cannabinoid costs 90% less than current wholesale prices.

It is explained that THCV is difficult to manufacture with high purity since it is naturally produced in such small quantities. This means that the only way to mass-produce products with high-purity levels of THCV, which is also toxin- and containment-free at a low cost is through biosynthesis.

According to BioMediCan’s press release, “the biosynthetic cannabinoid market is expected to reach $10 billion by 2025. With its strong health properties and applications to numerous industries, THCV/THCVA will represent one of the top three cannabinoids in market share.”

The CEO of BioMediCan explains that well-informed consumers are quickly realizing the significant health benefits of this rare cannabinoid (THCV). He goes on to explain that much like when CBD first evolved from an unknown substance into one of the world’s most marvelous medical compounds, so will THCV as it is quickly gaining interest and preference from the research and consumer sectors.

The significance of the BioMediCan biosynthesis of a cannabinoid is that they have chosen to produce one of the most beneficial and rare cannabinoids available. They have also seemingly been able to keep this man-made intervention as close to nature as possible.

Key Questions

  • Are synthetic cannabinoids the same as biosynthesized cannabinoids?


No. Synthetic cannabinoids and biosynthesis of cannabinoids are both accomplished through human intervention but in different ways. Synthesis is the formation of something complex by combining chemical reagents in flasks and distilling them. Meanwhile, the biosynthesis of cannabinoids is the synthesis of organic compounds within living organisms, without the need for harsh reagents. Synthetic is thought to have more of an artificial connotation and biosynthesis speaks more of an organic and natural significance based on the methods used.

  • Is the biosynthesis of cannabinoids safe for human consumption?


The answer is to be determined. Ultimately, biosynthesis is still synthesizing cannabinoids even though it’s done in a more organic fashion. However, it’s still too early for there to be enough research to understand the extent of safety from consuming biosynthetic cannabinoids and their long term health effects. One can stand to reason that if the biosynthesis of cannabinoids ends up with a product that is 100% organic, such as the THCV from BioMediCan, that it would be safer for consumption than the chemical-based manmade cannabinoids (synthetic cannabinoids). Fully synthetic cannabinoids can often leave residues of harsh chemical reagents or mystery byproducts with unknown effects.

  • Why is the biosynthesis of cannabinoids from BioMediCan unique?


The company answers it best themselves when they explain that it is biosynthesis and not chemical synthesis. They stated that “chemical synthesis is the creation of compounds through artificial means by a chemical reaction. Compounds derived from chemical synthesis often possess components that differ from the desired naturally occurring compound. These synthetic components can be toxic and result in undesirable side effects. ​Biosynthesis is the production of the desired compound through the natural means of an organism’s biological processes. Biosynthesis produces identical compounds to those found in nature, lending itself as the optimal pathway for the manufacture of cannabinoids and carotenoids identical to their naturally occurring counterparts”.

BioMediCan has chosen to pay attention to producing rare cannabinoids through organic measures in order to meet the demand of the market for those cannabinoids. They stated that “chemical synthesis of rare cannabinoids has become the leading method for the production of these rare, high-value compounds. However, chemical synthesis leads to the production of non-naturally occurring forms of these cannabinoids, which can have unwanted side effects. To overcome the large gap in the supply chain, reduce the environmental footprint, decrease the time of production, circumvent regulatory oversight, and produce high-quality cannabinoids with the exact chemical structures as naturally occurring cannabinoids, BioMediCan uses a method of production called biosynthesis”.

Hopefully, the biosynthesis of cannabinoids becomes the future of cannabinoids as opposed to the harmful chemical synthetic cannabinoids.

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Content Medically Reviewed By:<br> Dr. Abraham Benavides, MD
Content Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Abraham Benavides, MD


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