We Still Don’t Know Everything About Cannabis, Canadian Researcher Says

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Yang Qu is Canada’s first academic researcher focusing solely on the cannabis plant. He hopes to lead the way in unlocking the full potential of cannabis just as he already did as one of Canada’s foremost anti-cancer drug researchers.

“Legalization just liberated the research on this plant,” said Qu, who will start in January at the University of New Brunswick.

There are still a lot of things we don’t know about cannabis, he said.

“The industry is rapidly growing, as we all know,” said Qu. “I’m sure that the exciting biological activities in the future that we would gather from this plant would help to grow the industry.”

He said that one of his primary goals is to look into the medical capacity of cannabinoids and devise new ways of manufacturing them.

There are 90 different types of cannabinoids, and we only know details about two of them THC, the psychoactive compound of the plant and CBD, a compound that’s usually used for pain relief.

He said that the study of the other compounds could help scientists find unexplored medicinal potential.

“Once we have more information about the individual activity of the cannabinoids, we can try to produce these cannabinoids in cannabis plants,” he said.

Producing cannabinoids synthetically 

He also wants to reduce production costs by improving the genetics of the plant and to explore the possibility of producing cannabinoids synthetically.

During the last few years, he studied the biosynthesis of anti-cancer drugs: specifically, those derived from the Madagascar periwinkle, a type of flowering plant.

He managed to find the genes responsible for making the drugs, and he transferred them to a microorganism such as the yeast which can trigger the same reaction as the plant.

He’s positive that this method can be used to produce synthetic cannabinoids and this will result in higher quantities of the compound and an increased purity.