Ilan Sobel, CEO of Israeli/Canadian biotech innovator BioHarvest Sciences, believes his company has created a better way to grow major and minor cannabinoids. The company has developed a patented bio-cell growth platform technology capable of growing the active and beneficial ingredients in fruit and plants, at industrial scale, without the need to grow the plant itself. This technology is economical, ensures consistency, and avoids the negative environmental impacts associated with traditional agriculture. BioHarvest is currently focused on nutraceuticals and the medicinal cannabis markets.
David Rheins: Welcome to another edition of Marijuana Channel One. It is my pleasure this morning to talk to the CEO of BioHarvest Sciences, Ilan Sobel. Thank you for joining us today.
DR: So you are in Israel, and BioHarvest Sciences is an Israeli/Canadian company, is that right?
IS: We are listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange. We are listed on the OTCQB, and our R&D activities are largely done here in Israel. But, I am actually happy to say we are right now doing some pretty interesting R&D in Canada, as well, with one of our partners there. So it is basically bringing the two countries closer together, and I guess that is what Canada has done with many Israeli cannabis companies and the opportunities that the Canadian market and the Canadian exchanges provide companies like ourselves. It is a good win/win.
DR: So, I want to hear more about BioHarvest Sciences. You know, it is interesting for us in the US [that] the Israeli cannabis market has really been hyper-focused on medical cannabis, and has unlike the US, really from the get-go worked with universities and medical institutions and hardcore scientific research — despite the fact that we have had international prohibition — and now those investments have started to pay off as international law, and cannabis is becoming more mainstreamed.
DR: Tell me a little bit about BioHarvest Sciences and its evolution.
IS: Well, what is interesting is that we are not a cannabis company. We are a biotech company, with platform technology. And, in fact, we are the global leaders in plant cell biology. We have been doing this since 2007 — so that is 15 years of building expertise in capabilities, And with that expertise and capabilities, David, we have built the capabilities to unlock the secrets of cellular plant biology better than any other company in the world.
Now, what does that mean to the viewer out there? What it means is that we have a platform technology where we are able to take any plant out there — and God gave us 500,000 plants on day three of creating the world, one of those was the cannabis plant — we can take any of those plants that each contain critical phytomedicinal compounds, so that could be polyphenols, many people in America understand antioxidants, and of course, cannabinoids.
So, [with] our technology we are able to literally take the plant once, and we take cells from the plant throughout the plant’s growth life cycle. And we take cells from all parts of the plant, and we have developed this unique AI expertise where we can actually look at all the millions of cells and we can figure out which cells are the really smart cells — [the ones] that are responsible for eliciting the critical phytomedicinal compounds: polyphenols, antioxidants, and cannabinoids.
We take those cells, and we grow those cells in solid media — in a petri dish. And, over time, we have developed this unique technology where we are able to take those cells and grow them in massive industrial scale bioreactors. And if you think about what an industrial scale bioreactor look like…I am not going to stand up here, but I am 6 foot 2. They are 7 foot high, maybe 1.5 meters wide, and each of these bioreactors can produce from the cells.
We have in the case of cannabis, been able to really break biological barriers, and to create biological history. And, we were able to ensure that every cell was able to grow a trichome. And we all know [that] the trichome is the most important part of the plant — the mini factory that produces the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
So, inside our bioreactors, the cells grow trichomes. Inside our bioreactors we produce, today, 93% trichomes. Every 3 weeks, on average, we produce 8 to 9 kilos of bubble hash in one of these bioreactors, because we are in perpetual flowering. We don’t go through the regular stages that you go through [with traditional agriculture]: from vegetation, grow cycle, into flowering and [harvest], and you start from the beginning [each crop]. That [cycle takes], in the best multi-state operators, 12 to 16 weeks let’s say. Now we don’t have to deal with that, because we have figured out how to get the cells of the most important parts to grow the trichomes, and then like I said, we are in perpetual flowering. And we harvest every 3 weeks the actual material, which is literally the trichomes.
We dry it with special technology, and you are left with this our biomass (holding up jar of biomass) as the audience can see here.
DR: Let me ask you the question [that our readers want to know]: Is what you are talking about really a synthetic process?
IS: No, no, no, no! You can see how you can see how upset I got there! We are the antithesis of biosynthesis, or synthesis. Our process, basically, is a non-GMO process. We do not in any way shape or form we do not change the actual structural molecular composition of the actual cells themselves, therefore we are non-GMO.
“We are the antithesis of biosynthesis, or synthesis. Our process, basically, is a non-GMO process. We do not in any way shape or form change the actual structural molecular composition of the actual cells themselves, therefore we are non-GMO.”
And that’s why this material that we produce, and we are the only company in the world that can grow trichomes in liquid media, in a way that we are really bringing the power of full-spectrum cannabis together with obviously multiple cannabinoids and the power of technology.
We are able — through altering the conditions — we can actually ‘fine tune’ our cannabinoids, which allows us to get actual, let’s call it ‘certificates of analysis’ that you will never find with a regular agriculturally-grown, traditionally-grown, indoor-grown, cannabis plants.
We demonstrated that about three months ago, when we shared a certificate of analysis where we showed how we took a hemp plant — and we did this to just to show the gravity in the magnitude of the technology — where we took a hemp plant, which had roughly 3% of CBD, obviously no THC, and we took that plant we put it through our system. And through our technology, we are able to increase significantly the levels of the cannabinoids. We came up with a proposition, which went from 3% cannabinoids to 36% cannabinoids. And we took the CBD from 3% to 18%, and we took the THC — total THC — from literally 0.09 right to 7.5%. And, we were able to grow significant levels of the variant CBDV of 4.5%, THCV of 2.5%, plus significant amounts of CBG, CBC, CBN.
And that provided us a certificate of analysis, where when you show this to people — whether it’s recreational, or more specific medicinal, people look at this and say, “We’ve never seen a composition of cannabinoids like this all working together in full spectrum.”
As we bring this to market, and commercialize our technology through the different strategies that we’re going to be deploying, we are going to be providing a level of cannabis that I believe cannabis consumers have never seen before. And, frankly, from an economic perspective, the lowest cost in the business by far, and we know very well the costs of the multi-state operators out there.
And importantly, because we are a biotech company that’s focused on health and wellness and making sure that we’re driving transformational positive change in people’s health and wellness in a way that preserves the planet. We have sustainability credentials that are second to none in an industry that really now is plagued by sustainability challenges — whether it’s around water management, whether it’s around energy management.
So, that’s really what the technology allows us to bring. It is important to understand, we do this in cannabis, we do this in polyphenols, antioxidants, and there are many other verticals that we will build in our company, as we aspire to build a multibillion dollar biotech platform technology company, overseeing multiple critical verticals, of which cannabis is one of them.