Biotechnology of Cannabis sativa L.
Plant-based medicines play an important role in the lives of human beings. Identification of active principles and their molecular targets from traditional medicine provides an enormous opportunity for modern drug development. Using modern biotechnology, plants of specific chemical composition can be mass propagated for the extraction of bulk active pharmaceuticals. In the present study, we have used Cannabis sativa, as a model to assess the potential of the applications of biotechnology for the multiplication of elite medicinal plants. Cannabis contains Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a unique terpeno-phenolic compound which accumulates mainly in the glandular trichomes of the plant. Besides its psychoactivity, THC possesses analgesic, anti-inflammatory, appetite stimulant and anti-emetic properties making it a very promising therapeutic drug especially for cancer and AIDS patients. Because of the allogamous (cross fertilization) nature of this species it is difficult to maintain the reproducibility of the plants with unique chemical profile, if grown from seeds. Therefore, screening of elite clones and their propagation using biotechnological tools is the most suitable way to maintain the quality and the efficacy of the product. This report describes our recent biotechnological advancements in Cannabis propagation using tissue culture, synthetic seeds and temporary immersion bioreactors and, in-vitro conservation of elite propagules using slow growth conditions [1–5].
Acknowledgement: This work was supported in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services, USA, Contract No. N01DA-10–7773.
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