By Shaharyar Lakhani
Dr. Andy Ellington and his team from the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology have been awarded a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) to search for and better understand minor compounds produced by cannabis that could potentially aid in the alleviation of pain (https://nccih.nih.gov/news/press/09192019). To this end, Dr. Ellington and his co-workers have developed an extremely novel system for the production and assay of cannabinoids … in yeast! By using yeast as vehicles for screening, rather than plants, it becomes far easier to divide down the heady chemical mixtures that are present in the plant, and better define the particular active agents and what pain receptors these active agents may act on. The use of cannabinoids like CBD as a treatment for chronic pain has become increasingly popular, and might one day even serve as an alternative to opioids, which are highly addictive and aren’t as effective in the long run.