Organigram is one of only two Canadian LPs to make a strategic investment in biosynthesis – a disruptive production technology.
What is Biosynthesis?
Biosynthesis is the production of molecules using living cells. By incorporating the instructions for producing a specific molecule into the genetic code of a simple host organism—e.g., bacteria, yeast, or algae—these organisms can produce nearly any molecule. The host cells are essentially ‘factories’.
The principal cannabinoids—THC and CBD—make up just ~two to five per cent of the cannabis plant, while minor cannabinoids and terpenes—hundreds of them—comprise less than 0.1 per cent. As such, 95 per cent of the plant generally ends up as waste through current methods for manufacturing, which rely on planting, growing, and harvesting large quantities of cannabis plants and then extracting and purifying their active compounds. The process often yields a complex chemical mixture of variable and inconsistent composition.
Biosynthesis has the potential to create cannabinoids at large scale at a fraction of the cost of traditional cultivation.
Organigram has invested in Hyasynth Biologicals Inc. a Montreal-based biotechnology company and leader in the field of cannabinoid science and biosynthesis. Hyasynth has developed a disruptive technology using proprietary yeast strains and patent-pending enzymes to naturally produce cannabinoids without growing the cannabis plant.
Biosynthesis vs Traditional Cultivation:
- Reduced operating and capital costs
- Scalable, consistent, superior purity and quality
- Production of minor cannabinoids just as feasible as major ones
- Able to meet even more rigorous standards of CPG and Pharma
- Smaller environmental footprint
While Organigram believes there will always be a sizeable market for the premium dried flower produced at its facility, working with Hyansynth changes assumptions about scale, speed and precision to produce the highest margin products such as extract-based medical products and a range of adult-use recreational products such as edibles and beverages.
In addition to the investment, Organigram has the right to purchase 25 per cent of the cannabinoid offtake from Hyasynth at a discount to market prices.
The Montreal-based biotech company utilizes unique enzymes and yeast strains to produce major cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which can be used for cannabis-based products like beverages, vaporizable products, topicals and pharmaceutical products.
Organigram has developed a proprietary nano-emulsification technology that is anticipated to provide an initial absorption of the cannabinoids within 10 to 15 minutes. The emulsification process developed by the Organigram R&D team generates micro-particles that are very small and uniform (size of 20 nanometers), which is expected to translate to an absorption and onset of effect that is believed to be rapid, reliable and controlled. With traditional edibles and beverages, the body spends significant time breaking down fat soluble cannabinoid particles which are then absorbed and metabolized in the body before effects are felt. This lengthy process can result in accidental overconsumption and undesirable experiences.
The nano-emulsion technology
The nano-emulsion technology is anticipated to be stable to temperature variations, mechanical disturbance, salinity, pH, and sweeteners.
The Company’s researchers have also recently developed a way to transform this emulsification system into a solid form, turning it into a dissolvable powder. This shelf-stable, water-compatible and unflavoured cannabinoid nano-emulsion formulation is also expected to begin to be absorbed within 10 to 15 minutes when ingested after added to a liquid.
The powdered formulation will offer consumers a measured dose of cannabinoids which they can then add to liquid, such as a beverage of their choice, while also offering the discretion, portability and shelf life expected of a dried powder formulation.
The Company is planning to launch a variety of dried powder formulation beverage products in the second quarter of calendar 2020 and is actively seeking a strategic partner with proven experience in beverage product development to take advantage of the liquid formulation it has developed.
The Université de Moncton, in partnership with the Government of Canada, Genome Atlantic, Genome Canada, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) and Organigram Holdings Inc. have an institutional research project focused on cannabis at the Université de Moncton.
- Improve the quality of the product by identifying specific traits through genetic mapping, which will result in healthier, more resistant plants and improved growing techniques
- Improve productivity and lower costs by introducing beneficial microbial inoculants and developing strains with improved traits
- Conduct genetic research to identify specific markers which will allow specific strains to be protected if necessary
- Utilize genomics to determine the impact of different growing practices on improving key cannabis attributes such as THC/CBD and terpene levels