CALIFORNIA: Librede, an early stage biotechnology company, has been awarded a $1,490,000 Phase II Small Business Innovative Research Grant (SBIR) from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to further develop and scale their proprietary yeast-based cannabinoid production platform.
The NIH SBIR program is a highly competitive program aimed at translating cutting edge research with large societal, health, and economic benefits into commercial products. This new grant follows the successful completion of a previous Phase I SBIR award granted to Librede by NIH, covering development of complete biosynthesis of cannabidiol (CBD) in yeast. This platform technology has been patented by Librede (Patent # 9,822,384) and will serve as the basis of an industrial scale pharmaceutical cannabinoid production system.
In the new Phase II award, Librede will improve titers and scale the technology in large bioreactors. Dr. Anthony Farina, Librede’s Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Principal Investigator of the new Phase II award, explains Librede’s technology and current focus, “By harnessing the power of genetic, metabolic and protein engineering, we have developed a highly robust system to produce the valuable therapeutics found in the cannabis plant. We have successfully demonstrated the production of CBD in yeast from low cost feedstocks such as sugar. The CBD produced in our system is identical to agriculturally produced CBD, but our system is more efficient and better controlled. Now we will begin to scale our technology. This is the last technical step that must be addressed before we can move into production and provide high quality, pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids that are currently being explored as therapeutic agents for a wide range of diseases. As new uses for these compounds are discovered, the market for cannabinoids will continue to rise globally, with many estimates placing the market size in excess of $50B in 2020, with that of CBD alone being $2.1B. As the market rapidly expands, this industry will require innovation that can increase volume, reduce costs, and improve the quality of these therapeutic compounds. Librede’s fermentation platform has the ability to meet this demand.
Dr. Jason Poulos, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Librede explains, “Other industries have turned to biotechnology to source high value ingredients in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. Here at Librede we are taking a similar approach to the large scale production of cannabinoids. Agricultural production is high in cost and not environmentally sustainable requiring large amounts of land, water, labor, pesticides, fertilizers, and energy. By utilizing a different manufacturing approach, production is faster, lower in cost, and uses less water, less land, and less electricity, while requiring no fertilizers or pesticides. Although our initial focus is CBD production, development of this technology is also applicable to production of other cannabinoids.”