WOBURN, Mass. — Medicinal Genomics (MGC), an innovative molecular information company focused on safety, research, and genetics of therapeutic plants, is partnering with a preliminary group of twelve leading cultivators and processors to develop fully-validated, genomics-based safety and quality standards for medical cannabis.
The lack of consistency of strains from the same grower can present significant medical challenges for patients, as even slight changes in the plant’s genetics can alter the effectiveness of the strain. For example, many patients require a specific strain of cannabis with a certain cannabinoid profile for effective treatment. When plant genetics vary, which is a common occurrence from crop to crop, patients are at risk of losing symptom relief.
Although some states have enacted testing requirements for yeasts, molds, heavy metals, and microbial contaminants, no specific laws or guidelines have been implemented to enforce genetic consistency of the strains that are used by patients for various medical reasons.
Using technology created by MGC and specifically validated for use with cannabis and hemp, conscientious growers, processors, and third-party testing laboratories are implementing strain verification and stability programs to ensure product safety and consistency. While these programs provide confidence to patients using these strains and strain-based medicines, they also significantly reduce product liability risk for the growers and processors. These programs are also being lauded by doctors and regulators who were previously unaware that genetic variance and effectiveness of cannabis is of significant concern.
“The current industry nomenclature for identifying and characterizing the medicinal benefits of a strain has no consistency, reliability, or association with the quality and/or effectiveness of the product used by patients,” said Kevin McKernan, chief scientific officer of MGC. “With clinically-validated Next-Generation Sequencing techniques, we now have the tools to decipher the genetics driving the medicinal properties of cannabis strains used by patients. Furthermore, this information can be linked into a distributed ledger to serve as the basis for claims about intellectual property, branding, and scientific discovery in the advanced breeders market.”
Through MGC’s proprietary StrainSEEK™ service, DNA sequencing is employed to record the unique fingerprint for cannabis and hemp strains into the Bitcoin Blockchain database. This type of genetic registration ensures the consistency, safety, and branding integrity of strains used in the treatment of patients in states where medical cannabis is legal.
“The team at MGC is doing critical work to bring quality, consistency, and reliability into the medicinal cannabis industry,” said Kevin Murphy, managing director at High Street Capital, one of the early partner companies planning to utilize StrainSEEK™ for its medicinal cannabis operations and some of its holdings. “Using the most advanced scientific tools to ensure quality and patient safety is essential as we expand our national footprint of high quality medicinal cannabis operations.”
Medicinal cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. Currently, it is estimated to be a $6 billion industry and increasing at a 24 percent CAGR, according to Cowen and Company’s September 16, 2016 equity research report. Twenty-five states, plus the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical cannabis and more are expected to join the list in November 2016. The industry, however, is highly fragmented and nascent in its use of safety and quality standards typically governing the regulated food or crop industries. MGC is leveraging the massive clinical neurology sequencing and bioinformatics pipeline of its parent company, Courtagen Life Sciences, to generate, and analyze the DNA information.
About Medicinal Genomics Corporation
Medicinal Genomics Corporation applies state-of-the-art life science technology to cannabis plant genetics. The company’s products help growers, dispensaries, and safety testing laboratories characterize and understand the quality of medicinal cannabis. Medicinal Genomics utilizes a highly sophisticated Next-Generation Sequencing laboratory, bioinformatics system, and DNA-based technologies to deliver unmatched technical solutions to decipher the genetic code and quality level of medicinal cannabis. Medicinal Genomics sells life science tools to third-party testing laboratories established to ensure quality and safety of medicinal cannabis. Medicinal Genomics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc.
About Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc.
Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc., located in Woburn, Mass., is a CLIA/CAP certified molecular information company focused on the diagnosis of a range of neurological disorders. Courtagen operates a highly sophisticated Next-Generation DNA Sequencing, bioinformatics, and clinical interpretation business. Courtagen’s work helps physicians elucidate the linkages between the genotypes and phenotypes of various neurological diseases. For more information, please visit www.courtagen.com.