Scientists Crack Genome – Of Cannabis

MarijuanaEliza Barclay reveals a major breakthrough in marijuana research for NPR:

Stoners and scientists alike may be stoked to learn that a startup biotech company has completed the DNA sequence of Cannabis sativa, or marijuana. But here’s something that could ruin a high: The company hopes the data will help scientists breed pot plantswithout much THC, the mind-altering chemical in the plant. The goal is instead to maximize other compounds that may have therapeutic benefits.

Kevin McKernan, founder and chief executive officer of the startup, called Medicinal Genomics, says Cannabis sativa has 84 other compounds that could fight pain or possibly even shrink tumors. But anti-marijuana laws make it difficult for scientists to breed and study the plant in most countries. That’s one reason he decided to publish his data for free on Amazon’s EC2, a public data cloud.

McKernan, who has an office in Massachusetts and a lab in the Netherlands where he can legally gather DNA from marijuana plants, has spent most of his career studying tumors in humans. But he tells Shots he had several friends with cancer who asked him about medical marijuana and whether it might do them some good. That got him interested in the emerging medical research on pot’s healing properties.

Then he heard about a drug called Sativex, a Cannabis-derived drug developed by a German pharmaceutical company to treat muscle stiffness from multiple sclerosis. Sativex contains THC and another cannabanoid called CBD, which the company says keeps the psychoactive effects of THC in check. The drug is now available in the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, and is in trials to see if it works for cancer pain.

McKernan says Sativex might just be one of the first in a line of future pharmaceuticals using cannabis compounds for a variety of serious illnesses…

[continues at NPR]

majestic

Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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46 Comments on "Scientists Crack Genome – Of Cannabis"

  1. Tio Holtzman | Aug 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm |

    And like FrankenCorn & FrankenWheat, will eventually destroy all Mother-Nature-created cannabis plants.  Because we know how to create stuff better than nature.  Humans deserve what we’re gonna get…

  2. Tio Holtzman | Aug 19, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    And like FrankenCorn & FrankenWheat, will eventually destroy all Mother-Nature-created cannabis plants.  Because we know how to create stuff better than nature.  Humans deserve what we’re gonna get…

    • Ronniedobbs | Aug 19, 2011 at 10:54 am |

      Franken-Weed does not necessarily have to be a bad thing….  Might be better than the swag I get….

      Idea for a movie: new genetically modified cannibus turns country into a nation of zombies with bad taste in music and a permanent case of the mad munchies…..FOR BRAINS

      • Ronniedobbs | Aug 19, 2011 at 10:58 am |

        soundtrack could feature Phish, The Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic…. 

        • Ronniedobbs | Aug 19, 2011 at 11:01 am |

          the protagonists could be Cheech and Chong and they are only able to undo the zombie scourge  by pumping vast quantities of organic hydro bud (commande style of course)  into the raging zombie hordes…. anyone have an agent I could pitch this to?

      • Three words: Troma. Pot Zombies.

    • Certifiedpet | Aug 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm |

      We actually do know how to create stuff better than nature, at least when it comes to pot. We have cross bred these strains and artificially boosted the thc content from %2 to %20 in the last 30 years. Weed actually really sucked until humans did something about it.

      • Tio Holtzman | Aug 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

        I’m not a horticulturist, but I would assume the cross-breeding was done outside of a lab; with dirt, scissors, water, and patience (i.e. naturally).  

        Think of dogs,  We’ve bred them into numerous breeds, but we haven’t purposely bred one without a sense of smell.

      • Tio Holtzman | Aug 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

        I’m not a horticulturist, but I would assume the cross-breeding was done outside of a lab; with dirt, scissors, water, and patience (i.e. naturally).  

        Think of dogs,  We’ve bred them into numerous breeds, but we haven’t purposely bred one without a sense of smell.

      • Anarchy Pony | Aug 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

        That was from long and patient selective breeding not dangerous direct genetic tinkering which can quite often lead to multiple negative side effects stemming from the unforeseen reactivation of dormant genes.

      • Anarchy Pony | Aug 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

        That was from long and patient selective breeding not dangerous direct genetic tinkering which can quite often lead to multiple negative side effects stemming from the unforeseen reactivation of dormant genes.

      • The pot from 30 years ago would be the same that has been bred for thousands of years, as I’m pretty sure that most people 30 years ago did’nt get their pot from the wild, untouched plants of the central asian mountains. Neither would I say that they’re better plants just because they might, or might not, provide stronger pot.

  3. Ronniedobbs | Aug 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm |

    Franken-Weed does not necessarily have to be a bad thing….  Might be better than the swag I get….

    Idea for a movie: new genetically modified cannibus turns country into a nation of zombies with bad taste in music and a permanent case of the mad munchies…..FOR BRAINS

  4. Ronniedobbs | Aug 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    soundtrack could feature Phish, The Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic…. 

  5. Ronniedobbs | Aug 19, 2011 at 3:01 pm |

    the protagonists could be Cheech and Chong and they are only able to undo the zombie scourge  by pumping vast quantities of organic hydro bud (commande style of course)  into the raging zombie hordes…. anyone have an agent I could pitch this to?

  6. Three words: Troma. Pot Zombies.

  7. The thought of big pharma profiting from sativex which is purely weed in another form makes me sick.

  8. The thought of big pharma profiting from sativex which is purely weed in another form makes me sick.

  9. why not just start with “weedstand” hemp..as it is Cannabis Sativa with little to no THC content as is. also it has been proven that weedstand hemp can, after several gen. produce high THC content, likewise quality THC producing Cannabis  after several generations can be made into weedstand hemp. soooo…WTF?

  10. why not just start with “weedstand” hemp..as it is Cannabis Sativa with little to no THC content as is. also it has been proven that weedstand hemp can, after several gen. produce high THC content, likewise quality THC producing Cannabis  after several generations can be made into weedstand hemp. soooo…WTF?

  11. except for Tio, you guys are idiots!

  12. Certifiedpet | Aug 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    We actually do know how to create stuff better than nature, at least when it comes to pot. We have cross bred these strains and artificially boosted the thc content from %2 to %20 in the last 30 years. Weed actually really sucked until humans did something about it.

  13. Tio Holtzman | Aug 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm |

    I’m not a horticulturist, but I would assume the cross-breeding was done outside of a lab; with dirt, scissors, water, and patience (i.e. naturally).  

    Think of dogs,  We’ve bred them into numerous breeds, but we haven’t purposely bred one without a sense of smell.

  14. SpreadTheTruth | Aug 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm |

    THC, specifically delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, rendered down, CURES cancer. This has been shown in many studies. The THC causes a build up of a specific fatty acid within the cancer cells that causes ONLY the cancer cells to disintegrate. Of course there’s going to be some people that don’t believe this because they can’t understand the absolute evil big pharma perpetrates. Cancer is a business, and like any other business, the sustainability of profits is the most important thing. If they can keep the people alive, but not cure them, they can generate huge revenue streams from just treating the cancer. Releasing a cure would only harm those revenue streams. 

    That being said, I think reducing the amount of THC in the plant is diabolically evil. Go ahead and render down one pound of good indica marijuana into about two ounces of pure THC oil (You won’t.) Then give the oil orally to anyone with cancer and watch them get better. Smoking marijuana may help with chemotherapy and also help to slow the spread of cancer cells. However it does not have the needed potency to CURE the cancer.  

    Marijuana maybe fun to smoke, but it has a much better place in society.   

  15. SpreadTheTruth | Aug 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm |

    THC, specifically delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, rendered down, CURES cancer. This has been shown in many studies. The THC causes a build up of a specific fatty acid within the cancer cells that causes ONLY the cancer cells to disintegrate. Of course there’s going to be some people that don’t believe this because they can’t understand the absolute evil big pharma perpetrates. Cancer is a business, and like any other business, the sustainability of profits is the most important thing. If they can keep the people alive, but not cure them, they can generate huge revenue streams from just treating the cancer. Releasing a cure would only harm those revenue streams. 

    That being said, I think reducing the amount of THC in the plant is diabolically evil. Go ahead and render down one pound of good indica marijuana into about two ounces of pure THC oil (You won’t.) Then give the oil orally to anyone with cancer and watch them get better. Smoking marijuana may help with chemotherapy and also help to slow the spread of cancer cells. However it does not have the needed potency to CURE the cancer.  

    Marijuana maybe fun to smoke, but it has a much better place in society.   

    •  “Diabolically evil” is one way to put it. Let’s remove the miracle drug from the miracle plant and claim its to make the plant do more miracles… I’m speechless. 

    •  “Diabolically evil” is one way to put it. Let’s remove the miracle drug from the miracle plant and claim its to make the plant do more miracles… I’m speechless. 

  16. SpreadTheTruth | Aug 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm |

    THC, specifically delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, rendered down, CURES cancer. This has been shown in many studies. The THC causes a build up of a specific fatty acid within the cancer cells that causes ONLY the cancer cells to disintegrate. Of course there’s going to be some people that don’t believe this because they can’t understand the absolute evil big pharma perpetrates. Cancer is a business, and like any other business, the sustainability of profits is the most important thing. If they can keep the people alive, but not cure them, they can generate huge revenue streams from just treating the cancer. Releasing a cure would only harm those revenue streams. 

    That being said, I think reducing the amount of THC in the plant is diabolically evil. Go ahead and render down one pound of good indica marijuana into about two ounces of pure THC oil (You won’t.) Then give the oil orally to anyone with cancer and watch them get better. Smoking marijuana may help with chemotherapy and also help to slow the spread of cancer cells. However it does not have the needed potency to CURE the cancer.  

    Marijuana maybe fun to smoke, but it has a much better place in society.   

  17.  “Diabolically evil” is one way to put it. Let’s remove the miracle drug from the miracle plant and claim its to make the plant do more miracles… I’m speechless. 

  18. That was from long and patient selective breeding not dangerous direct genetic tinkering which can quite often lead to multiple negative side effects stemming from the unforeseen reactivation of dormant genes.

  19. CosmicAmazing | Aug 19, 2011 at 10:03 pm |

    Yea, what he ^ said…  

  20. Anonymous | Aug 20, 2011 at 3:32 am |

    ffs just legalize it. Cannabis has a 1001 uses, and thats just counting what we can do with hemp.

  21. DeepCough | Aug 20, 2011 at 3:32 am |

    Why is the United States so goddamned Victorian? Making weed without THC is like making beer without alcohol: no one’s gonna want it!

  22. ffs just legalize it. Cannabis has a 1001 uses, and thats just counting what we can do with hemp.

  23. DeepCough | Aug 19, 2011 at 11:32 pm |

    Why is the United States so goddamned Victorian? Making weed without THC is like making beer without alcohol: no one’s gonna want it!

    • because as some one has mentioned that if it was legal, that would cut into profits for big pharmaceutical companies, i mean why do that when you can make a synthetic version, have a patent on it, legalize it make money. simple as that. greed is why it’s illegal, now granted 40 years ago it was illegal due to ignorance and fear. but times have changed every one knows that the plant is in no way harmful. well it is to the pocket books of certain people.

  24. The pot from 30 years ago would be the same that has been bred for thousands of years, as I’m pretty sure that most people 30 years ago did’nt get their pot from the wild, untouched plants of the central asian mountains. Neither would I say that they’re better plants just because they might, or might not, provide stronger pot.

  25. because as some one has mentioned that if it was legal, that would cut into profits for big pharmaceutical companies, i mean why do that when you can make a synthetic version, have a patent on it, legalize it make money. simple as that. greed is why it’s illegal, now granted 40 years ago it was illegal due to ignorance and fear. but times have changed every one knows that the plant is in no way harmful. well it is to the pocket books of certain people.

  26. reducing thc will reduce the effectiveness of the medicine. This science you are discussing is old here, and already can tell you reducing the thc while cbd presence is limiting the results.

  27. reducing thc will reduce the effectiveness of the medicine. This science you are discussing is old here, and already can tell you reducing the thc while cbd presence is limiting the results.

  28. Ironaddict06 | Aug 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm |

    Pay attention people.  This is why marijuana is Illegal, because it can NOT be patented since THC is a naturally occuring substance.  But if you change the DNA sequence and make a slight change-Boom there you go.  You got a new drug with a Patent.

  29. Ironaddict06 | Aug 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm |

    Pay attention people.  This is why marijuana is Illegal, because it can NOT be patented since THC is a naturally occuring substance.  But if you change the DNA sequence and make a slight change-Boom there you go.  You got a new drug with a Patent.

  30. Sativex is a step in the right direction at least, but it still has side effects that the plant in it’s natural form doesn’t

  31. Sativex is a step in the right direction at least, but it still has side effects that the plant in it’s natural form doesn’t

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