Microfluidics: The Future of Cannabinoid TherapyAs science, technology, and cannabis merge, a new future is being defined for cannabinoid-based therapeutics.
CannabisTech recently had the opportunity to speak with Kelly Ogilvie, CEO and Founder of DeepCell™ about the future of cannabinoid science through technology transfer.
In their own words, DeepCell™ describes their operation as,
“a technology development company focusing on material science, microfluidics, and cannabinoid molecule discoveries. We develop technologies from concept to market-ready, and seek licensees of our brand and technologies.”
“We see tremendous opportunity on technology transfer from different industries into cannabis.”
Technology transfer presents many opportunities for advancing the cannabis industry. By breaking down the silos of information once guarded from the cannabis industry, technology companies, like DeepCell™ have started to take advantage of changing laws to bring innovation into the world of cannabis therapy.
Biological Expertise – California first legalized medical marijuana in 1996, so what was once mainly driven by black-market, illegal operations has had more than 20 years to mature. Now, master growers, geneticists, and biological scientists have had the opportunity to perfect optimal growing conditions and fermentation processes to achieve the best product.
Chemistry Expertise – In particular, the process of creating extracts and concentrates. With the changing legalities of marijuana, expert chemists can now interject their experience and knowledge to bring safer, more pure products to market. Live resins are a prime example of how chemistry has helped advance the cannabis industry. Through advanced extraction techniques products can be engineered with particular cannabinoids to target condition-specific symptoms and ailments.
Through the Looking Glass – Microfluidics
Cannabinoid science is breaking new ground on the future of medical and pharmaceutical technology. Microfluidics is perfect example of how state of the art technology and knowledge transfer are forming a very exciting future in cannabis-based medicine.
What are Microfluidics?
As Ogilvie describes, microfluidics is the art of moving liquids in a really small scale. Referring to a scene children’s movie, “A Bug’s Life”, Ogilvie explains how the physics of water perform much differently depending on volume.
In the movie, a bug walks into a bar and asks the “bugtender” for a drink. The bugtender hands him a ball of water and a straw. The bug takes the straw, punches it into the droplet of water, sucks it up, then hands back the straw. A perfect way to demonstrate a droplet of water behaves much differently than a cup of water, and harnessing these physics of surface tension could be the future of micro-dosing cannabinoids.
While the actual science is a little more involved, using electrowetting, tiny droplets can be moved and physically manipulated using electrical current. These electrical signals define the shape and size of each droplet and determine how it moves.
What’s in a Strain?
While categorization of cannabis in the past has been done with strain names such as Northern Lights #5, or Acapulco Gold. We know now, it isn’t necessarily the strain in particular, but the cannabinoid profile it contains. Strains are simply the representation or proxy for certain combinations of cannabinoids which produce effects for the end user. Whether it’s tiredness, creativity, energy, or focus, those effects are created by the particular concentration of cannabinoids in the plant.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature is fickle, and not all plants have the exact same cannabinoid content. In fact, cannabinoid content can vary from branch to branch depending on growing conditions, environment, and nutrients. Extraction science, coupled with cutting edge, nanotechnology and microfluidics are allowing manufacturers like DeepCell™ to take cannabinoid to the next level.
Synergies of cannabinoids are replacing the need for strains. Microfluidics give manufacturers control and precision around dosing. Ogilvie explains,
“With microfluidics you can remove the need for strains and begin to understand and micro-dose these compounds to specificity and predictability around what experience you want. So maybe someday you're going to have droplets of ... and some combination will be just the right combination for you. If you just want to ‘Netflix and Chill’ or you want to go to bed or your back is hurting... the microfluidics future is one in which we see the ability to give people the control.”
While devices in microfluidics continue to outprice the consumer market, DeepCell™ is patenting much cheaper, innovations through paper microfluidics to drive down the cost of delivery mechanisms. The company’s overall vision in Ogilvie’s words are “To do the right thing.” He sees the future of being able to provide, cheap, predictable, and safe medicines to the areas where they are needed the most.
By bringing together cutting-edge technology and cannabis medicine, Ogilvie’s goal goes beyond just advancing the cannabis industry, but through making a positive social impact on the future of world medicine.