Agrinnovation, the agri-tech investment fund of Hebrew University of Jerusalem technology commercialization company Yissum, has announced an investment in a medical cannabis venture. Cannabi-Tech is based on research by cofounder and chief scientific officer Prof. Oded Shoseyov, whose technologies are also the basis for other startups, including Collplant and Fulcrum.
Cannabi-Tech has developed a device for detecting, analyzing, and sorting medical cannabis plants automatically, without damaging the plant. The company's technology combines Near Infra-Red (NIR) Spectrometry with imaging tools, and provides a sensitive method for detecting and quantifying the active ingredients in cannabis flowers, while providing a unique spectral fingerprint for each flower. The system is designed to make it possible to sort cannabis plants according to criteria determined in advance for mass production purposes. An automated unit for adding labels and packaging can also be added to ensure the plant's full composition and the proportion of the active ingredient from the farmer to the consumer.
Reproducibility, meaning the similarity between one state and another, is one of the key questions in the medical cannabis field. Today, a person smoking cannabis does not know exactly what effect it will have on him or her, because the active ingredients in each plant are slightly different. When a person undergoes medical treatment, especially for a chronic condition, he or she usually wants to be able to predict the treatment's effects in order to know whether it will alleviate pain, whether cognitive abilities will be affected, etc.
There are a number of startups in Israel developing devices for providing a defined dosage for each inhalation of cannabis, but even a precise dosage is not enough to provide reproducibility when the composition of active ingredients in the plant is unknown. Another Hebrew University company, BreedIT, is trying to program the hybridization of the plants using a machine learning algorithm in order to achieve specific characteristics. Cannabi-Tech has chosen a different method - sorting. As of now, there is still no way to test cannabis flowers precisely without destroying them in the process, a limitation that reduces the commercial value of the flowers.
Shoseyov says, "… the only way to guarantee cannabis composition and potency is to test each and every flower independently… The medical cannabis opportunity cannot materialize in full until doctors have 100% confidence that each time they prescribe medical cannabis, it comes in a controlled and standardized condition, with the precise composition of active ingredients matching their patient's therapeutic needs.”
Cannabi-Tech cofounder and CEO Guy Setton said, "We are excited to partner with Agrinnovation, which enables us to leverage the resources and capabilities of Yissum, a longtime leader the field of technology transfer with a successful track-record of commercializing early stage scientific research. Cannabi-Tech will use the proceeds to fund its R&D activities and initial business development efforts. In addition, we are in the midst of a financing round and are seeking additional funding.”
Agrinnovation general manager Dr. Ido Schechter added, "Cannabi-Tech’s breakthrough technology is another example of the kind of innovative applied technologies originating from The Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agriculture… As the medical cannabis industry expands worldwide, there will be a significant rise in regulatory oversight, increased quality assurance and quality control testing, while growing market demand will need to be fulfilled by mass production, all which will drive Cannabi-Tech’s growth.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 22, 2016
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