Forget the human genome project, scientists at a Massachusetts company have sequenced the entire genome for marijuana, the first company to accomplish that goal.
According to the Nature news blog, the results from Medicinal Genomics have yet to be peer-reviewed and the findings won’t be published until some time in 2012. Nature says of the study:
“Thus far the company is only posting the raw sequence reads – meaning that the over 131 billion bases of shotgun sequence have not yet undergone the important and arduous process of being assembled into contiguous chunks. For now, the sequence is fragmented into hundreds of thousands of snippets. But Medicinal Genomics founder Kevin McKernan says he estimates the size of the C. sativa genome to be about 400 million bases – roughly three times the genome of that other weed, the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.”
According to Bloomberg the company has true intentions:
“It may be possible through genome directed breeding to attenuate the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while enhancing the medicinal aspects.”
If researchers can take the “marijuana” out of the equation but still offer the same effects as cannabis in a controlled substance it could be the breakthrough some medical marijuana supports have been hoping for.
While the genome could be used for “good” there’s also the possibility that others could use it to create stronger strains of the drug for recreational use.
The company is prepared to share their genome annotations with the public and will release an iPhone app next fall, after their findings have been officially published.