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Prof. Joseph (Jossi) Hillel

Medical Cannabis

Genomic Improvement of Medical Cannabis

The target of medical cannabis improvement is to have specialized cannabinoids’ varieties from which the pharmaceutical industry can generate medicines for various diseases and medical health problems. It is essential to improve the current varieties of medical cannabis due to several inherent difficulties:

  1. The available cannabinoid varieties are crude due to missing genetic knowledge The cannabis genome is highly heterozygous which in turn produces difficulties to genetically stabilizes the improved varieties. This difficulty causes that progeny are different from their mother plant and sibs are highly variable. This finding calls for the production of homozygous, uniform and stable varieties.

  2. THS, CBD, CBN,… (MAJOR CANNABINOIDS) are the main cannabinoids known and have been used for many years. In fact, there are many more cannabinoids (MINOR CANABINOIDS) with minor quantities, but not necessarily with small effect, particularly when they are combined with the major cannabinoids. This outcome, justifies the need to identify genes or nearby DNA markers that control as many cannabinoids as possible.

  3. Synthetic cannabinoids are much less effective than products from cannabis plants which are presumably encompass more cannabinoids than singles as synthetic cannabinoids do. Therefore, emphasizes should be given to produce varieties that are specialized for specific cannabinoids and mix products by the pharmaceutical industry to produce specific drugs for specific illness.

In my long-term scientific activity, I reached good experience in the following fields that are needed to overcome the difficulties detailed above: Genomic Breeding based on Genomic Selection using sophisticated tools of Population Genetics, Quantitative Genetics, Biometry and Molecular Markers.

These tools have recently been used and verified to be true in other agricultural important species. Based on that, I have prepared a detailed plan to use these tools for medical cannabis with two target populations:

  • Pharmaceutical industry to receive from us cannabis products originated from varieties that are specialized individually for a list of major and minor cannabinoids.

  • Seeds for small growers at their home.

Such a project requires the detection of metabolites associated with cannabinoids and detection of genes/markers involved with cannabinoid production. As a result, it requires the development of cannabis varieties specialized with specific cannabinoids followed by stabilizing polymorphic varieties which are highly heterozygous. It also requires the medical search for associations between human diseases/symptoms and cannabinoid combinations. The ultimate goal is to produce specific medical cannabinoids for the pharmaceutical industry and a side result to allow production of seeds/clones for small cannabis growers.

Why medical cannabis?

The use of medical cannabis (Marijuana) can be helpful in some neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis, including some medical conditions such as nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.

State of the art

Until very recently, marijuana and its cannabinoids they were illegally to be prescribed, possessed, or sold in many countries, including USA. As a result, scientific activity on genetic control of the different compounds in marijuana was poor and limited. Even though, there are currently more than 140 known cannabinoids, but there are almost certainly more waiting to be discovered. Each cannabinoid can provide varying levels of medical benefit, and research has shown that each cannabinoid works the best when they are combined.

The needed actions

  1. Detection of metabolites associated with cannabinoids

  2. Detection of genes/markers involved in cannabinoids production

  3. Construction of dedicated microarray (DNA chip)

  4. Genomic selection

  5. Stabilization of the new varieties

Outsourcing availabilities

  • Approved farms to grow cannabis in Israel

  • Experienced lab for DNA extraction from plants

  • Equipment and laboratory for assessment and quantify metabolites

  • Good service for DNA sequencing

What is missing?

In fact, everything is ready to start this important project except financial support. I hope that eventually very large number of suffering patients will largely benefit from the results of this project. My target is to help people using my knowledge, experience and the methods that I've developed to be used for the success of this project.

Summary

Detection of metabolites associated with cannabinoids and detection of genes/markers involved with cannabinoid production. As a result, development of cannabis varieties specialized with specific cannabinoids followed by stabilizing polymorphic varieties which are highly heterozygous. Medical search for associations between human diseases/symptoms and cannabinoid combinations. The ultimate goal is to produce specific medical cannabinoids for the pharmaceutical industry and a side result to allow production of seeds/clones for small cannabis growers.

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