A Colorado cannabis genetics platform company has unveiled a new line containing higher levels of a particular minor cannabinoid.
Boulder-based Front Range Biosciences (FRB) recently announced the launch of the new line, which contains more than eight percent tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv).
FRB says that the yield is twice that of typical THCv-producing plants.
The new line also has over two percent grassy and fruity terpenes.
THCv Steps Into The Spotlight
The new line is the first THCv line from FRB’s breeding program and expansive cannabis genetics library.
FRB envisions a plethora of uses in consumer products as well as medical research and therapeutic applications.
THCv is associated with appetite suppression, pain relief, diminished psychoactive effects, increased energy, and other therapeutic effects.
According to FRB, growing evidence suggests THCv may be useful for controlling seizures in ALS and Parkinson’s patients and treating PTSD.
With a higher THCv yield, reduced harvest times, and terpene-rich flavor, FRB says the line creates opportunities for new THCv flower and concentrate-based products.
Front Range Biosciences CEO Dr. Jon Vaught says he considers THCv to be one of the more interesting minor cannabinoids that research has uncovered.
The Dr. Is In On THCv
While there are limited amounts of peer-reviewed literature and double-blind studies on THCv, Dr. Vaught says consumer anecdotal evidence is clear.
Dr. Vaught says that, combined with THC, THCv effects can include appetite suppression, increased energy, and a more clear-headed, euphoric, energizing experience than people traditionally report with cannabis.
To facilitate a higher yield of THCv, FRB utilized a suite of technologies and processes such as genomics and genomic markers to screen for genetic traits like THC, CBD, and other minor cannabinoids.
“We also use a series of analytical chemistry methods,” says Dr. Vaught. “We look at plants at different stages throughout the growth cycle and try to understand. It’s about connecting the genome with the chemotype. We leverage all of that data to really speed up the process and then be able to look for the needle in the haystack.”
Dr. Vaught says that a compound like THCv has been very elusive for cannabis growers and breeders.
“Because it’s kind of a rare set of mutations, we think,” says Dr. Vaught. “What we’ve seen is that the handful of varieties that are out in the market, they just don’t grow very well. They don’t produce a lot of weight, they’re not very good performers. Through our process in our platform, we’ve really been able to unlock the potential and then clear some of those roadblocks or hurdles.”
Clearing those hurdles has revealed a plethora of benefits.
“We’ve got improvements in yield and vigor, shorter flowering times, and improved terpene and cannabinoid profile,” says Dr. Vaught. “And most importantly, producing a significantly higher amount of THCv than what you see in the few genetics that are out there.”
Dr. Vaught says that the THCv content of FRB’s new genetic line is close to nine percent.
“Right now we’re looking at numbers between eight and nine, but we actually expect to see numbers potentially go up from there,” says Dr. Vaught. “These are kind of early product evaluations, and we tend to be conservative. So we’ll see what some of our growers and customers are able to push our of this. But we know it’s a 20 percent-plus total cannabinoid set of genetics.”
Dr. Vaught says that FRB’s team of PhDs, plant breeders, scientists, and chemists led by Dr. Reggie Gaudino has pushed the envelope of what is possible with cannabis.
“This is just one of many new developments that we’ve been able to unlock for growers,” says Dr. Vaught. “We’ve got a bunch more coming. The power of these technologies really is impressive.”
Dr. Vaught says that the modern political and social climate has facilitated further research and other advances in cannabis, which prohibition has hindered for decades.
“We see developments in social equality and social justice happening,” says Dr. Vaught. “We see research moving the needle forward in such an exciting way. The number of publications in the cannabis science realm is just increasing dramatically. There’s scientists all over the world now that are digging into it…We’re doing things that, even just a few years ago, were out of reach in terms of what we’re being able to bring or discover about this plant.”
“And then more importantly,” says Dr. Vaught. “Commercialize it, so we can get these really exciting new products into the marketplace and into the supply chain.”
Put On Your Work Genes
One of FRB’s most formidable tools in its arsenal is its massive genetics library.
“We’re the technology behind all of the breeding, and the selection, and the markers, and the chemistry,” says Dr. Vaught. “That’s really what we do, and we work with licensed growers all over the place.”
Dr. Vaught says that FRB is working to establish new partnerships to introduce THCv and other new genetics in Colorado and other markets.
While the field of cannabis-focused medical research is still in relatively early stages, Dr. Vaught sees a lot of potential within.
“What we do know is that the endocannabinoid system is very exciting and very much a new area of research,” says Dr. Vaught. “Most medical programs don’t even consider it in the textbooks. That’s changing very rapidly. We’ve got programs popping up all over the country…where people are starting to discuss and learn about the endocannabinoid system. So, I think it’s a really exciting area for the medical side.”
With more than 120 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body, Dr. Vaught sees a wealth of potential therapeutic applications.
In 2019, FRB sent hemp tissue samples to the International Space Station (ISS) via a SpaceX CRD-20 cargo flight to study the effects of space flight and microgravity.
“It was really intended to be the first experiment of getting these types of samples and tissue culture to the space station,” says Dr. Vaught. “And then being able to retrieve them effectively, making sure that they were stable and making sure that they could survive the flight and be maintained and then brought back. That was really the most important objective, which we did accomplish.”
Dr. Vaught says that FRB’s biometrics studies of the experiment include sequenced genomes of the tissue culture samples, which help in understanding changes in gene expression or mutations that may have happened.
But while Dr. Vaught says that cannabis research in space is an exciting area of study, FRB does not currently have plans for additional experiments outside Earth’s atmosphere.
Dr. Vaught says that may change as priorities and areas of research shift focus in terms of what they are trying to study on the ISS.
Dr. Vaught says that FRB’s core focus is on selective breeding, unlocking the potential of the cannabis plant, and making improvements for growers.
“If growers can improve their yields, and they can grow these plants more effectively,” says Dr. Vaught. “That’s a win for the whole industry. It helps improve the supply chain.”
Dr. Vaught says FRB’s breeding efforts facilitate good economics by increasing yields, shortening flowering times, and boosting cannabinoids levels.
Dr. Vaught says that all of those things help push economics in the right direction for the supply chain.