Medicinal Genomics and Courtagen Life Sciences has announced that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded the company an SBIR Phase I grant to develop a novel test to detect toxins resulting from microbiological contamination of medical cannabis.
MGC currently produces quantitative PCR (qPCR) tests that can detect the presence of harmful bacterial and fungal contamination designed and validated specifically for cannabis. In contrast, these new tests will be developed to detect the toxins produced by these microbes, which may be left behind and continue to endanger the medical cannabis user even if the microbes are no longer present.
“The risks associated with medical cannabis are not stemming from the plant itself, as there have been no recorded deaths directly from cannabis overdose, unlike opioids or alcohol,” says Kevin McKernan, Chief Scientific Officer for Medicinal Genomics and Courtagen Life Sciences. “However, fungal infections, such as Aspergillus and Penicillium, have been responsible for death and illness. Having tests available to detect both the primary source of contamination and their toxic by-products will allow the industry to improve the safety profile of medical cannabis even further.”
The first test to be developed under the grant will be for the mycotoxin paxilline, a product of the P. paxilli fungus. Paxilline is a lipid soluble nanomolar drug that causes ryegrass staggers. Paxilline has published contra-indications with Cannabidiol in animal models and is believed to co-extract with cannabinoid extracts. Utilizing next generation sequencing of cannabis microbiomes, Medicinal Genomics was the first group to discover P. paxilli as a frequent threat contaminant in dispensary grade cannabis.