Marijuana, Plant Chemistry, Terpenes, Volatile Sulfur Compounds, Cannabis Industry, Aroma & Smell
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Iain Oswald 2:40
sure, so. So my name is Ian Oswald, and I'm a chemist by training. I have a pretty diverse background from the academic world in that respect. So I started out doing research back in 2009, and 10, as an undergraduate at the University of North Texas. And I was working under the tutelage of Professor Muhammad, Omari who focused on developing new types of phosphorescent materials, understanding the electronic properties of those and so I got to do a lot of inorganic synthesis, organic synthesis, as well as a lot of spectroscopic type of techniques to kind of understand the electronic properties of those. So that gave me a good kind of background into, you know, the world of organic chemistry, and how those can be applied for kind of the applications. From there. I did a master's with him for two years, kind of continuing the work I was working on as an undergraduate, we're able to file some patents, as well as publish a few papers around these cool phosphors that we developed. I then went to the University of North University of Texas at Dallas, in 2014. And 2013, sorry, and I worked on solid state chemistry. And so basically, we're developing new types of materials with these exotic electronic and magnetic properties that in the future could have some potential use. But right now, they're still kind of self contained in the physics world, trying to understand how they work and how they can be applied to new sort of technologies. And then from there, I did for four years there that I went to do a postdoc at Colorado State University. And when I was there, I was working on these hybrid organic inorganic perovskites. And so you may have heard of these materials. These are, again, solid state materials, but they're excellent chromophores, and so they make really good solar cells. And so they've been around now for about 1015 years. And I was involved in helping understand some of the really the really detailed chemistry surrounding them, because they're kind of fascinating materials where they, they act like really good semiconductors, but they have none of the character chemical characteristics of say silicon or germanium, those sorts of things. So anyway, I did a little bit of work there. So a lot of different cool experimental techniques we used, we did a lot of neutron scattering at national national labs, that sort of thing. And then when I was finishing that up, I was applying for different positions and industry, I had decided I want to get out of academics, I think it had kind of run its course, I think I'm my brain works in too much of a creative application manner for academics. And so my good buddy TJ, who's actually the VP of research here at abstracts, called me up around the same time that I was looking for different positions. And so he kind of explained to me very generally about what abstract was starting to do. And it was only about a year, year and a half old at the time. And that's really involved in basically, you know, developing flavor and fragrance applications off of using cannabis kind of as that base, you know, profile that we're after. And so it you know, since then it's expanded to many different types of projects, we have, obviously, our core business is focused around understanding the aroma of cannabis, and, you know, creating products around that. But also, you know, this has led us to do some really cool other other work such as you know, we have some cultivation studies going on right now. So kind of going into more of the breeding aspect of cannabis. And so we have a lot of different sort of, you know, fields that we're looking into surrounding cannabis. But it's also been expanded beyond that as well. So we're now looking into hops and other botanical flowers, as well as other types of products that consumers use all the time probably throughout the day. And, you know, really trying to understand what makes these products have a certain quality to them. And understanding that on a chemical level. And so that's where I come in, really, I'm basically leading the team in the lab, for the most part, doing the actual hard science. And again, because we're interested, essentially what makes things taste a certain way or smell a certain way. One of the key technologies that we use is this two dimensional gas chromatography system at abstracts and so you know, they invested in that early on. And I've helped develop that technology throughout the years. And really it it gives us kind of the the key information to understand what we want to both in cannabis hops as well as other sorts of products that we're trying to understand.
Nick Jikomes 7:24
So why do you guys have such a focus on the aroma of cannabis? Why is that important?
Iain Oswald 7:32
Yeah, so I think there's two parts to it. I think when the company first started, Kevin, Jack, and Max, they're the owners, they started the company in 2018, I think they recognized that there was a severe under a lack of understanding as to the chemistry behind the aroma of cannabis. And so because of that, they saw, you know, from a market standpoint, that there could be some, some sort of, you know, angle there. But also, as you know, I'm sure you're aware, Nick, the aroma of cannabis can kind of dictate, or, you know, it's hypothesized to potentially dictate kind of how a product may influence the, you know, the psychoactive properties of cannabis. And so a lot of folks have been studying cannabinoids, you know, on a routine basis. And so, you know, that that field at the time felt kind of saturated. And so I think, you know, the, the angle of kind of looking at, well, what, what is all the other chemistry that's occurring in cannabis? What's going on there? You know, how can we kind of educate the consumers as well, as you know, build a market around that? How can we do that in a way that's, you know, really diving deep into the chemistry behind it? And so that was, that was really the main the main goal, I think, when the company was first started.
Nick Jikomes 8:47
And, you know, where does the where does the aroma actually come from? in cannabis? Typically, typically, people talk about these things called terpenes. And so what, what kind of contribution are the terpenes making to the aroma? And, you know, what are some of the question marks there?
Iain Oswald 9:05
Yeah, and so this is a great question and one that, you know, we've been hammering away at everything, but terpenes. But that's not to say terpenes aren't important at all. You know, as you showed in your paper, there's a, there's a wide variety of kind of major Terps that can produce the aroma of cannabis. But they don't necessarily describe the aromas as specifically as we'd like. And one of those one aspect of that is for a long time, people didn't really understand that what people called gassy, gassy cannabis or Skokie cannabis that kind of that smell that everybody kind of knows. There wasn't not there was not a clear understanding about what is the chemistry behind that specific aroma that cannabis produces. And so again, kind of going back to how I was saying that a lot of folks were, you know, abstracts arted trying to look at, you know, what, what are we? What can we do differently that other people are not looking at? Well, within the aroma of cannabis, like you mentioned, a lot of folks were looking at terpenes. And the main reason that is, is because they are the most, you know, the highest concentration compounds, you know, in the volatiles in cannabis. And so, you know, those include beta myrcene, they're usually typically very high in OGs. Hemp is almost always myrcene. Rich, you have caryophyllene, which is assessed with terpene, it has a more muted aroma, because it is heavier, it's a larger molecule than beta myrcene, or you know, the pines. But it's in many different things as well, you know, limonene, D limonene, we see that in basically every variety, and it can be dominant, usually, typically, in hybrid varieties, they tend to be present in greater concentrations, or at least what people would consider to be hybrid. And then, you know, little, little geraniol, you see all these sort of things. And I do want to say something here, I think this is, you know, the terpene. World, I think there's some not necessarily misinformation, but people may be kind of like assuming things that are not necessarily correct. And that is that if you do not see some of these terpenes on a COA label, or on the packaging label of your product does not mean that those other things are not there. And so what I mean by that is, in our analysis, using this to DGC, we've optimized the methodology to basically have a very wide dynamic range to see all the high concentration compounds and low concentration compounds. And I'll explain why the low ones matter just as much as the high ones in a bit. But we basically always see, if you have like, you know, a COA that says, we test for 18 terpenes, oftentimes, we'll get these tested at a third party lab just to see what they say things look like. And they'll have a lot of non detects for the many of these compounds. But what we find is actually, they're almost universally in these varieties. They're just in levels that are a bit too low, maybe for their methodology to see. But the way we work, we want to see that whole range. And so we've tuned our methodology to see it. And so that is something I want to mention that I do think there's this, you know, kind of misconception that if it's not on my CoA, and if it's not on my level, it's not there at all. And that's just not true. But again, you know, we're interested in well, okay, everybody's looking at the major terpenes. What about all this other stuff kind of in the lower concentration? And so, and this is related, going back to what is that skunky, gassy aroma? People have been talking about the major terpenes for so long, that if it was one of those, this question would have been answered a long time ago. But obviously it hasn't, it wasn't. So
Nick Jikomes 12:47
is what you're saying that none of the individual terpenes that are commonly found in cannabis smell like that skunky smell?
Iain Oswald 12:56
Not at all. No. And so like I mentioned, abstracts, you know, we a large part of our businesses flavor and aroma based, right. And so we have basically every major terpenes, even many, many, many of the minor terpenes in our lab in our flavor lab. And so we can go in and smell these one by one. And so if you were to ever swing by our lab, Nick, you could do the same thing. And you would you would obviously say this, none of these smells like cannabis, or like, at least that scent that we're all kind of after. And so, you know, I think that's the benefit of our business model is that we're able to leverage basically the the flavor side to kind of validate the chemistry that we're seeing, you know, spat out from our instrumentation. Yeah.
Nick Jikomes 13:41
And so I mean, when you're focusing on, there's many sort of different aroma notes that you can often smell and different cannabis products and different strains and things. This gassy skunky smell. Why is this one particularly important? Do do consumers tend to fixate on that? Is there an association that's made in people's minds between like the potency or the quality of the product and that particular aroma note? Or you know, what, why is why is this one so interesting to focus on? Yeah, so I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head.
Iain Oswald 14:15
I think many people who consume cannabis do use this specific scent, it's, it's very, it's such a pungent smell. i Well, when you get it that fresh, it's that you know, it's very pungent. But they use that as essentially a quality marker to their nose to say, is this high quality cannabis or not? Right? Is this you know, is this gas weed right? Is this gonna make me feel a certain way because it has this aroma. And you know, it's funny because they're not necessarily wrong. Because what we found in our studies is that these compounds are at the greatest concentration when the cannabis is fresher. So you know, I mean, people aren't necessarily certainly wrong about that where if you smell something and it is very poor Anjan it probably is a fresher product. And if you know if you smell something and it had lower amounts now, that's not to say, all varieties produce these equally because they don't. And that's a whole nother whole nother story. But the point is that if people really enjoy this aroma, and I think they do that, because it has this sort of, you know, this time dependent manner as to the pungency of it, you know, folks, that's the reason folks have really like honed in on it. But I also want to mention that I think there's another important kind of flip side to this coin here. So you know, that those are folks who consume cannabis oftentimes want this really intense aroma. But a lot of folks who don't consume cannabis, I would say, are equally as kind of, you know, it's a nuisance odor to them, right. And so in that context, understanding the chemistry of, you know, this aroma within cannabis is probably the most important one to understand. Because A, it's extremely diffuse, meaning that, you know, you open a bag of cannabis, it's going to smell out your entire room up, especially if there's a lot of these compounds in there. And so that means that, you know, cultivators, breeders, even if you live in an apartment complex, right, this aroma is going to get around. And for people who don't consume cannabis, oftentimes, it's described, like I said, is a nuisance out odor. And so, you know, that could have implications for zoning laws, policy, as well as potentially, you know, would you do people suspect, oh, well, I can smell this. And in my apartment, I'm getting high from it. You know, there could be actually, even though that's totally incorrect, you know, there could be this sort of these sorts of issues, kind of for non consumers that I want to mention as well.
Nick Jikomes 16:44
And so, you know, you mentioned that no individual terpene smells like weed basically. And, you know, that's, that's pretty well known to anyone who's ever smelled these things individually. And the explanation there that people have, which is not unreasonable is well, you know, the olfactory system is complicated. There's lots of nonlinearities involved in how our brains construct the perception of, of what we smell from the individual chemical molecules floating through the air and getting up our nose. So even though no individual terpene is responsible for like the core, we'd smell at least that skunky smell. It's really the combination. So there's some particular constellation that might be associated with that smell. And it's really about the the profile of all the terpenes. So has anyone been able to show that like, different terpene profiles, different combinations of terpenes, are associated with perceived quality, or potency, or this particular aroma, or anything like that?
Iain Oswald 17:45
So I think that comes down to user preference. So, you know, in your paper, Nick, you showed a really nice figure that basically grouped many varieties that are rich, and D, limonene, caryophyllene, and baracy. And kind of in the same bubble, or the same kind of group, but then you had these, you know, what people would consider to be kind of sativa varieties in their own sort of classification. And I think in that respect, those actually terpenes do dictate those differences right there. And from that perspective, I think that just depends on what what do you prefer, right? But yes, in in those situations, obviously, the terpenes are mixing together to produce specific types of aromas. So in the sativa, rich varieties, they're nearly always typically enrich. And they have a very characteristic sativa aroma. So a lot of Hayes's a lot of Jack's, those sort of things, they all kind of have the same sort of background aroma to them, I will mention that they're very rarely skunky, they're kind of the outlier here in that context. But everything else kind of runs together. But you can still have that kind of characteristic skunky back note that's in there. And so you're you know, and so your question of, Do These Things mix together to produce specific sense, yes. But we're actually working on another paper right now, that's going to basically kind of shed much more light on this in the context of the sensory aroma perspective. And so I think this this next paper is going to be a follow up to this one that just deciphered this clunkiness. But this next one is going to look into many other varieties of aromas that this plant produces. And I think it'll be very enlightening as to what is the actual impact of the major terpenes, even the minor terpenes and then potentially, all these other things that exist in cannabis as well.
Nick Jikomes 19:45
So it's a fair restatement of that, that if you've got two distinct terpene profiles and two different cannabis strains, yes, they will have different aromas you will you will be able to smell a difference between them. And that is coming to a large extent from the different terpene profile and in one versus the other. But it's at best not clear that that sort of skunky gassy, pungent smell that is very strongly associated with with cannabis. is, it's not clear that that's coming from any particular terpene profile. Yeah, no and not any particular combination of them either, right. Like you mentioned, you know, the olfactory system is incredibly complex. And people are just now starting to kind of understand how things work on a molecular level. There was a paper just published in Nature a few weeks ago that they finally worked out the crystal structure for one of the olfactory receptors in the nose, and they were binding a Fatty Fatty Acid to it. And so the Okay, that's, that's one receptor, how many more are there that he knows. But you're right that basically what we showed is that these things do not, these terpenes do not combine in any way to create that aroma, that skunky aroma. So, so in the essential oil of the plant, which produces all of the compounds of interest, basically, it produces the cannabinoids like THC, which is where the psychoactive effects are primarily coming from. It produces volatile compounds like terpenes, that float through the air that contribute to the aroma. You mentioned that the terpenes are the largest class of chemical compounds in the essential oil that are volatile, that are you know, floating through the air. And then of course cannabinoids make up a big fraction of the essential oil, but they're non volatile. And you guys have sort of looked at other stuff in there that's not as abundant. But maybe important in different ways. And so why did you start to do that? And what are some of the key classes of compounds beyond the cannabinoids, the terpenes that are in that
Iain Oswald 21:43
oil? Yeah, so I mean, that's, you know, that's exactly correct. Basically, the cannabinoids make up the majority of the essential oil content, then you have terpenes that are usually like, cured in fluorescence, maybe one to 3%. And then there's everything else. Everything else might total up to be point 5% of the total mass might be. But within there, there's hundreds of different compounds with different classifications as far as their functionality. And so for instance, you know, there's there's, there's already been a few papers that have been published looking at kind of what are those other compounds and so you know, there's esters are known, alcohols are known. Ketones are no and aldehydes, all these sorts of things. But again, these variety are these compounds. If you go either look at their Roman descriptors on like the good sense chemical database, or pub cam. And you look at them, none of them will have that specific aroma that you're referring to the skunky gassy aroma. And so, you know, esters tend to be fruity, they tend to be, you know, they actually are essentially, you know, the drivers in many fruits as to their kind of, you know, unique, unique flavors or tastes. aldehydes are typically kind of sharp, they're more top notes, but they're still not going to have that that pungency that we're talking about with the skunky gassy aroma. Yeah. And so there's one other class and so this is what we published on. And it was these volatile sulfur compounds that we ended up finding, okay, these are the ones that look like they could be the correct identification. As far as the chemistry behind that aroma. And you know, in our paper, we describe how we did that.
Nick Jikomes 23:28
So So what exactly are volatile sulfur compounds? And where do they show up in nature outside of cannabis?
Iain Oswald 23:36
Yeah, so VOCs are found in many different plants. They're in some vegetables, they're in some herbs, they're in some fruits, as well as they're in kind of unpleasant sources of smells. They actually add, I think it's hydrogen sulfide, or one on one of the very small sulfur containing compounds to natural gas, because it has such a low odor threshold, if there's a natural gas leak, you can smell it because natural gas by itself doesn't have an aroma. So they add a tiny, tiny, tiny amount to that so you can detect it in nature, though. So there are I like to point out that there's animals as well that can produce this smell. So skunks can produce the smell. If you go look at the chemistry of the aerosol spray, they produce I think it's like 20 to 30 different compounds that actually create that aroma. But then like I mentioned some vegetables also produce it so things like garlic, produce them. Onion produce them. Hops produce them, and they're all different they're all kind of chemically specific to whatever plant that is. So even though onion and garlic are in the same family this what is it? Camera we're Ali Ali a or something out there, Alicia is plants, right? They produce still chemically distinct compounds that contain sulfur And that's why they don't smell exactly the same, but they do still have a sort of pungency to them. Same thing with skunks, they're kind of chemically specific. And then in the fruit world, actually, there's some really cool kind of usually typically tropical fruits that can produce these sorts of scents. And so one of the that, you know, here in the US, I don't know if people are familiar with it, but Jurian, which is very popular, it's a fruit over in Asia is extremely pungent. So Geryon produces, people have looked into it quite a bit, because it has such a noxious sort of smell. But it produces at least five or six different VOCs that each have kind of off putting aromas. And it's so pungent, that there are hotels over in Asia, that actually have signs on the front doors that say, do not bring jury in here, because it smells so bad that it'll essentially stink up the hotel. But then there's other things that are pleasant in the fruit world such as passion fruit. So some of these tropical fruits that you know, you think of maybe putting in like a mojito or some sort of mixed drink. Those oftentimes actually have a lot of they're really pleasant characteristics are derived from VOCs.
Nick Jikomes 26:13
So it sounds like, you know, vocs volatile sulfur compounds across the board are, they're highly volatile. So they they flow through the air easily. They are highly potent, typically. So a small concentration can be readily detected by the human nose, you know, you mentioned the example of just adding a tiny bit of some of these compounds to natural gas, so it can be smelled, and it's not, you know, depending on the concentration and the specific molecule we're talking about, might be pleasant or unpleasant, but they often have a kind of pungency, or a kind of kick to them. And very often they is it sounds like they are not pleasant to smell.
Iain Oswald 26:53
Yeah, I would say so. And again, like you mentioned, these things are very sensitive to concentration, or I'd say the human nose is very sensitive to the concentration. So for an example of that, is great fruit mercaptan. Soy grapefruit mercaptan is one of the key compounds in grapefruit. And that people will use in grapefruit like drinks like seltzers, that sort of thing. You might smell them, they have this weird kind of sulfuric note to them, that's great fruit mercaptan in the correct concentrations, which are extremely low part per billion levels, it gives you that grapefruit note that, you know, if you like grapefruit, you're really going to enjoy. But if it gets too high, it just becomes entirely sulfuric. And so we have this as an isolate in our lab. And if you open it, and you usually it'll come at about like 1% dilution in the bottle. And if you open it at 1%, the whole lab just reeks of sulfur from further away, where it might be more dilute in the air, it might actually smell like a grapefruit. But as you get closer to the source, it tends to take on this really pungent kind of growth sort of sulfuric smell. So that's one example of that.
Nick Jikomes 28:03
And you mentioned that VOCs are a key component of the aerosol that skunks produce. So I think everyone probably knows what that smell is like and how how strong it is and how long it sticks around and how unpleasant it is. That's I mean, that's the whole purpose of that for the organism is to use it for defensive function. So I guess the natural question is, if that's where the skunky skunk smell literally comes from, what's the connection between the skunky smell in cannabis?
Iain Oswald 28:37
Yeah, right. I mean, when when we framed it that way, in our paper, it seems so obvious what the answer was. It's like, oh, well, just obviously it's that after the fact but I feel like that's, that's all science, right? Everything's obvious after the fact. But, yeah, so what we did is we use this advanced technology that's 2d gas chromatography coupled with some fancy detectors, one of them being a sulfur chemiluminescence detector, which is only going to show us essentially compounds that contain sulfur in them. And so we measured a bunch of cannabis that had really high pungency as far as their aroma goes and then really low pungency. What we found is these compounds that were in the high pungency cannabis. So for instance, pronto Theil they were in much greater concentration. And so you know, when we first did this, we went and sourced the material and we opened in the lab and it immediately was obvious that okay, this is at least a very important part of that aroma that gassy aroma and cannabis that we're after. And you mix it with the terpenes and it really really starts to emulate that smell that you know, so many people really enjoy. But what's funny about it, you know, you mentioned the relationship between skunks and cannabis that's going to be smoke cannabis. One of the key compounds in the skunk aerosol spray is It's essentially chemically identical to that in cannabis, the only difference being there's a double bond and one in cannabis and the not it's in the skunk spray. But having that slight chemical difference gives it a, you know, it's, it's not quite as skunk, right? I mean, I think most folks would agree that it has a skunky characteristic, but it's still not identical as far as the aroma goes to a skunk. And so that small chemical change, basically is what kind of makes cannabis have its aroma, unique aroma versus that of like a skunk. Okay, so
Nick Jikomes 30:31
So you were able to have people rate, how pungent they thought a particular cannabis strain was. And this was related to the concentration of some of these volatile sulfur compounds. How did you actually measure the the pungency? Did you? Did you give people different cannabis strains and just ask them to rate it somehow? How did that work?
Iain Oswald 30:52
Yeah, so because we're a flavor lab, we've been developing a sensory panel internally over the last few years. And so what better opportunity to kind of flesh that out then understanding one of the most important aromas in cannabis, you know, the skunky gassy aroma. And so, you know, in the lab, it abstracts we got together a team, I think there was four of us at the time that were on the team, we didn't want it to be too broad, just to keep it more self contained. But basically, we got them together, we had essentially a blind taste test done where, you know, these are labeled with a code, and then they would go through and they would smell these and essentially, rank them one by one. And so the way we did it intentionally was we put the most pungent first, and then the least pungent second. That way, unbeknownst to them, they at least had kind of the book ends, whether they're doing the sense around the the remaining 11 samples. And so from there, they will to kind of fill in what they thought was, you know, the most high pungency versus low pungency? And also, we did have them also smell the penalty, all that isolate in particular, in the lab, so they're aware of this is the smell that we're wanting you to try to identify and cannabis. So they were they weren't trained to some degree, it wasn't as intense, potentially, as you know, other really deep sensory studies, but it was enough to really hone in on that one aroma.
Nick Jikomes 32:23
Okay, and so you got really clear signal between pungency and chemical content, meaning that I mean, those two things basically track together most people rated the same strains as being the most pungent versus the least pungent.
Iain Oswald 32:37
Entirely. Yeah. So the sensory, we saw a clear difference, which is good for us. Because that means if there's clear chemical differences between some of these compounds we're looking at, then yeah, we should be able to kind of look for some sort of relationship. And that's exactly what we saw were especially using the the sulfur chemiluminescence detector that only looks at the sulfur containing compounds. If you basically we just plotted their intensities their raw intensities as a function of that olfactory score that was obtained from the sensory panel. And it was almost I don't want to say it was linear, but it was very obvious that there is a decrease in the olfactory score and the chemical composition kind of concomitantly. And so I think that was a really good, that was really good evidence for us to say, yes, these compounds definitely track at least with the chemical, sorry, with the olfactory data. So that was that was a very good sign for us for sure.
Nick Jikomes 33:31
And was there any relationship between the perceived pungency of a given strain and the type of plant it was like the type of strain or the lineage it belonged to? Or some kind of some aspect of its botanical classification?
Iain Oswald 33:46
Yeah, so and this goes back again, Nick, to kind of like what your paper was saying. So one of the one of the varieties was Blackjack, which is a typical kind of Jack, career smelling variety, and it did not have any detected VSCS. Nor did it have a high olfactory score at all. In fact, I think everybody across the board said that they couldn't detect it at all. And so, yes, in that respect, there was, you know, a difference between kind of like this classification you're describing, and whether we saw them or not. But I will say that, at the same time, some of these varieties, we got, you know, just from dispensaries and stuff, there, they also were a different sample ages. And so, I don't want to I don't want to say that, you know, the lower ranked varieties weren't higher if they were fresher. Right. And so, you know, that'd be like a false negative, essentially, for some of these writers. Because, you know, if you if you go look at the paper, I think in the supplementary information, we list off the sample age for that very fact. So folks don't misconstrue that. Oh, Gouda Berry, which is bred by you know, a pretty good, you know, geneticist had a pretty low score. But if you look at the sample ages about 106 is a few days old, versus some of the higher ranked ones? I think so we actually did our own in house coefficient study. So that was four, four days old. Right? So it's not fair to compare it in that respect. But again, as far as the kind of the chemistry goes as to the classification, the black check for sure, was relatively fresh to pedaling rich, no. CSCs but all the others were not your pedaling rich, and they did have CSCS, at least to some degree.
Nick Jikomes 35:28
Yeah. So there's a relationship between the concentration of these volatile sulfur compounds in the sample with the perceived pungency from from human observers, as well as how old the sample is. Yes. Talk about talking about that a little bit more how old the sample is, what exactly does that mean? Does that mean it was harvested at a particular time? The plants lifecycle? Does that mean it sat around after it was, you know, harvested and cured? And all that stuff? How do all those factors tie into this?
Iain Oswald 36:01
Yeah, so every single step of the way is going to factor it, right? Because the chemistry is, is going to happen regardless, right. So in our paper, we showed that basically, we did a growth study. And so we track these as a function of plant growth, through cure. And then just like 10 Days After curing, we saw a rapid drop within those 10 days, and those were stored in some nice, you know, glass jars, right? There's not mylar packaging or plastic baggies, yet, we still saw a pretty significant drop. And so I do think that the fresher the sample, obviously, the more of these compounds there's going to be. So if you're not getting something until 160 days later, it's not going to be that the same representative product that it was, you know, after four days. And so, you know, I think you might be alluding to the fact that a lot of folks who go to the dispensaries, oftentimes they'll have two dates on them, there's the harvest date, and then the package date. And so you know, this is, this is a huge thing, because we know that even in really nice packaging conditions about a week afterwards, these compounds have dropped pretty significantly. And they most likely continue to continue to drop like that. And so if your harvest day is, you know, January 1, but your package date is not until March 1, that's about 90 days worth of time that's already passed, that a consumer could even get their hands on it. And so from the context of quality, and you know, really getting something that you want to be representative of your product, you know that that time between harvesting, curing, packaging, and then on the actual shelves, you know, you want to minimize that as much as possible, because this time dependence is so, so rapid.
Nick Jikomes 37:50
Yeah. The other thing that's interesting here, that we've sort of alluded to, I'll take a minute to unpack it, and then I'll have you build on it. So in the the paper that that I did with some colleagues, that was published a year or two ago, you know, basically, we took all the terpene content that was available for testing labs across you know, many, many 1000s of cannabis cultivars actual cannabis flour that goes to dispensaries and is purchased by consumers. And like, overall, what we found is that the relationship between how the industry classifies this. So is it an indica hybrid or sativa and terpene content, there was no relationship there overall. So like the average indica, doesn't have a terpene profile that differs from the average sativa on average, across the whole dataset, but you know, we used some, you know, different analytical techniques to cluster or classify into different groups all of the cannabis strains based on their terpene and cannabinoid content. And so when you do that, a couple of you know, the two most distinct groups are basically characterized by having either a very high levels of trippingly together with you know, a, a terpene profile that's associated with that. And then all the other ones, which are, you know, a wide range of terpene profiles, but they all share in common very, very low levels of terpinolene. So you've kind of got two groups, one of them's really big, most strains have very low levels of terpinolene, and some diversity of other terpene profiles. And then, you know, around maybe 12% ish of the other stuff that's out there has very high levels of terpinolene. And this is the one area where we found a relationship between the indica hybrid sativa classification that the cannabis industry uses to label consumer products and the chemical profile the hydro pentylene strains, the ones in the minority in terms of how common they are, tended to have an overrepresentation of Sativa dominant cultivars or names and an underrepresentation of indicas. And, you know, it was really cool when you showed your data at that meeting. We were both that together with my data is that hydro pentylene Group has a more sort of sativa bias to it in terms of the cultivars that belong to that group that included things like the jack strains, like Black Jack, the one that had a very low pungency score in your, in your study, you know, Jack, Carrera XJ 13, all these things like Lemon Haze, or super Lemon Haze. And so that was really interesting. And one of the things that's interesting about that is, you know, as I'm sure you know, but for listeners, you know, sativa varieties in like the botanical sense, they tend to produce smaller harvests, they produce, you know, less massive buds, and they take longer to mature. So those strains of the hydro pentylene profile are probably either being prematurely harvested, or, you know, the sample sitting around longer by the time it gets to the consumer. And so I'm wondering if you could, you could comment on that and sort of tie some of those things together.
Iain Oswald 40:51
Yeah, so I mean, that's an interesting thought, I actually hadn't considered the fact that, you know, harvesting kind of not at the quote, unquote, incorrect time. Just, you know, if you're on a set schedule, for the sativa varieties could actually be impacting this, that's, that's very true. But I will say, you know, so we measured hundreds of different terpene rich varieties in our lab, we've also extracted the essential oil using different distillation techniques. So we've been able to concentrate it down to look for those compounds. And we've never seen them, except for there's one variety that we did Durbin poison, which I think is still interesting, because I think you mentioned something specifically about Durbin poison in your paper. But the point is, is again, that these things kind of have their own unique botanical characteristics, like you were mentioning, that are kind of different from all the other varieties. And at the same time, they obviously have this difference in chemistry as well. So this lack of these volatile sulfur compounds that, you know, in the context of cannabis, we call these Canna sulfur compounds, because they're so specific to this plant, as well as they're so important. But we've we've essentially never seen them in those sativa rich or sorry, typically enriched varieties, but in everything else, caryophyllene limonene, oh, Sameen, all the all the classes you showed that were grouped together that other cluster, we have seen these, at least to some degree. Now, that's not to say that there are other varieties of sativa, like terpene, rich varieties beyond that Durbin poison that has them, but they're few and far between. And so you know, hey, for folks who don't like that skunky smell, you know, I think those would be a better option, perhaps, to to consume at that point.
Nick Jikomes 42:42
And so these volatile sulfur compounds, so they seem to be responsible for this pungent skunky odor. They vary systematically across different types of strains from different lineages. They're low, in some, they're higher, and others, they also vary as a function of how old the sample is. So, you know, they go away quickly. And so that also sort of nicely sort of ties into how easily many seasoned cannabis consumers can detect freshness, like I have many friends that are, you know, we'd kind of sewers and they can pick up a sample. And if it's more than a week or two old, I mean, they can tell with one sniff instantaneously, that it is that old or that it is fresh. And so it's remarkable, sort of how the sensory side ties into some of the things that that you guys have seen on the chemistry side. What, what else can you tell us about these VSTS? That might be important. So beyond their pungency in their contribution to the aroma, the sensory side of this? Do they have any interesting known pharmacological or medicinal properties?
Iain Oswald 43:46
Yeah, so I think there's a few uses for these potentially, you know, in the future. So the first thing that, you know, you mentioned the medicinal aspect. So one relationship to another plant that we've mentioned in this discussion is garlic. And so back when I was a grad student, for some reason, I was looking into the chemistry of garlic. I think I just wanted to kind of understand why why people say it's so healthy and all that. So when when we finally worked out the structures for these in cannabis, I remembered, okay, these things look remarkably similar to those that are found in garlic. And so if you go and look, basically, it's just a slightly lipophilic more lipophilic version of the compounds that are found in in garlic. And so diallel sulfide is found in garlic, diallyl disulfide. These are some of the most important compounds in garlic that give some of its, you know, purported sort of therapeutic sort of benefits or dietary sort of benefits. And so they if you go look through garlic literature, there's quite a few different research bits of research that are looking into those, those aspects. And so there was a nice study, I think it was in 2008 that basically showed that I think it was diallyl disulfide bond Which isn't garlic, like I said, it's one of the main reasons for why it can help with your blood pressure. And so structurally, cannabis has something very similar that has diallyl, I'm sorry, dye prenyl disulfide. So that you just have these two methyl groups on the terminal allele that is in garlic. And so you know, that chemical similarity, and the mechanism that they proposed should honestly hold true for the compound that we found in cannabis. Now, I'm not saying that smoking weed is going to lower your blood pressure at all. And you know, these things are in low concentration, but the fact that they're there and the fact that they have this sort of chemical similarity to other potential potential useful compounds and other plants, lead, you know, leads us to want to investigate, okay, well, do these compounds have any sort of benefit. But another thing I'll mention is that, you know, in garlic, well, you don't smoke garlic, and I don't recommend that. But you do smoke cannabis, or you do, you can vape cannabis, right, you know, you can inhale it. And the fact that you are taking in these compounds in that way, I think is interesting versus orally, with, with garlic. Because, I mean, Nick, as you're aware, I think you did neuroscience in your background, that, you know, how you get a chemical into your body will definitely affect kind of the metabolism of, you know, what, what happens to it when it's in the body. And so, the fact that we are inhaling these compounds versus, you know, consuming them orally, may actually kind of unlock some of those sorts of benefits that would be otherwise lost if you're consuming them orally.
Nick Jikomes 46:37
And so how would you, you know, on there's sort of this persistent problem in the cannabis industry where, you know, we've got this legacy classification system that people are very used to and comfortable using indica, hybrid sativa. For those who don't know, the basic I sort of the central dogma of consumer cannabis is basically, you know, there's three types of cannabis indicas are one type of cannabis strain, they have certain physical and botanical properties, and those strains tend to have a more relaxing or sedating effect. They're sativa, which are basically the opposite. They have different botanical and, and growth characteristics. And they're more energizing or stimulating in terms of their psychoactive effects. And then there's hybrids, which are just, you know, a hybridization of the two, and they fall somewhere in the middle. And it's a really simple way to try to explain a complex, you know, multifaceted landscape of hundreds or 1000s of allegedly distinct products to consumers, right. So it's a, it's a really simple way to talk about something that's really complicated. But on the other hand, the relationship between the chemistry and these industry labels is basically a mess. And it doesn't make a lot of sense. So you know, knowing you know, after doing all the work that you did, and the work that I and others have done looking at terpenes, looking at cannabinoids, looking at these VOCs, that you guys looked at, you know, if you were to, if you could sort of wave a magic wand, and it's like, okay, we're going to use the terms, indica, hybrid and sativa. Because those are so ingrained, and so sort of easy to use, even for the average person. But we're going to standardize what gets called what, which chemistries? Which profiles? Would you label as indica vs. sativa in a way that that you think is most sensible?
Iain Oswald 48:28
Yeah, I mean, this is a huge issue in the industry, right? As we don't want folks to have to have a PhD in chemistry or biochemistry to have to buy a product, right? You want to be able to I mean, I think that is the benefit of the indica, hybrid sativa sort of classification, even though it's completely wrong. I think it's still it could still be potentially useful. My opinion of it is basically that the chemistry can probably be used to help dictate whether something is more quote, unquote, indica versus sativa. Than then what we're doing right now. And I think, you know, a lot of that is born out of your paper where you show and, you know, other folks have done, you know, principal component analysis as well that show that he's dependently. And things do have their own kind of unique set of compounds, the Turpin, language varieties, and the fact that we don't see these, these VSCS in those, I think that can be a second handle for basically dictating, okay, is this truly a sativa versus an indica? But at the end of the day, how a product makes you feel, I think that's the most important thing, right? And so, you know, that's where it gets tricky. I don't know if we have enough evidence as an industry as researchers to suggest that if you always have these terpene profiles, they will always produce the exact same effects. And until we get the nitty gritty down as far as the chemistry goes, which, you know, our paper and your paper have at least begun that, I think that it'll be, it'll be hard to kind of even say, from the top down, is the chemistry related to that sativa, you know, energizing effect or not. And so I think really just a deeper understanding of the chemistry to look for relationships between some of these minor compounds, is really the first right step to kind of delineating what you're what you're referring to.
Nick Jikomes 50:31
And one of the things that was so, you know, so pleasing when I saw you present your work, which, you know, for some reason, I don't know how I, you know, I hadn't seen that before. But it was nice that it was a surprise, I didn't know the answer already. You know, our analysis was based purely on looking at terpene profiles, basically, we didn't look at VOCs, or any of these other things, you guys look the VOCs. But when you superimpose your data on ours, there was this beautiful relationship that you mentioned earlier, which is that like, all of the all of the hydro pentylene strains, which tend to be sativa biased, are really low and VOCs. And these volatile sulfur compounds that seem to be responsible for that skunky aroma. And they were higher in the low terpinolene strains, which is basically everything else. So you know, if that's all the information we have to go on, right now, when I sort of look at that full dataset, and how well sort of the terpene classification correlates with VSC content, you know, the most sensible thing to me would be you would call those low terpinolene, low VOC strains sativa has, if you wanted to use that terminology, and you would call the loetscher pentylene, low high voc strains indicas. And to me, that also sort of, in a way, beautifully explains why you see more of the latter group and less of the former, for purely economic reasons. On the supply side, you know, sativa does take longer to grow, they produce smaller harvests. And so people are naturally incentivized not not to grow those as much because it's just not as economical, especially in a highly competitive market where, you know, every, every little bit of profit margin matters as it does in cannabis. And so that's why, you know, in my view that that explains why, you know, 80 to 90% of the stuff out there is this low terpinolene, high VSC type of chemical profile, and it's only 10 to 15%. Maybe that's this hydro pentylene, low vSee profile. And I mean, to me that it all it all sort of lined up and started to make sense, when I finally saw your data superimposed on mine, in the context of, you know, what we know about how the industry works and how people grow and talk about these things?
Iain Oswald 52:42
Yeah, definitely. I mean, it was kind of eye opening when I saw your paper, and I saw those those clusters in the analysis you did, which is really awesome. And I might have to hit you up about that on on some future papers we're working on. And yeah, I know, I agree with your assessment. And you know, the chemistry can almost be broken down into you know, this a tube, Teva rich, or the sativa, class terpene, rich, no, CSCs or VOCs? And then everything else is this kind of indica class. And, you know, I think this kind of opens up an interesting point, in the sense that well, okay, if there are no CSCs in the pentylene, rich varieties, and they're generally always energetic, or, you know, whatever, whatever sativa varieties are typically described as well, what if we start breeding them into their will the effects to actually start to change at all? Are these compounds actually influencing in any sort of way the psychoactive properties that we're referring to? You know, I know a lot of folks will tell me that, you know, fresh cannabis affects you differently from old cannabis. Well, one of the first things to leave these volatile sulfur compounds, right. And so I think there's a lot of really interesting questions that unfortunately, it abstracts, you know, we have our hands full of so many things we want to answer. But our team is growing, and we're hopefully gonna be able to kind of dive into these sorts of questions, right, you know, in controlled circumstances, right? To determine do these compounds actually have an influence or not? And unfortunately, it's difficult to you can't, you can't really do this blind in the sense that, you know, if they're in your vape pen, if you're formulating this into a Vape, pen with terpinolene, rich, you know, terpene profiles, you can't really mask that. So, but I think that it's something that needs to be explored, because I think that could really be be important, because I still think, you know, the whole entourage effect. There's, I think there's some validity to it, but we need more hard science, related to understanding it on a deeper level. And I think, you know, these sort of compounds, this is the route to that.
Nick Jikomes 54:54
And so, you know, going back to the relationship between vSee concentration and And the lifecycle of the plant. You know, we know that these things are highly volatile. And you said that they drop off quickly after harvest. So So weed that's not fresh that has recently been harvested and cured, it's going to very, very quickly lose a lot of the volatile sulfur compound content that it had previously. If you're a grower, and you're, you're, you know, growing strains and harvesting strains that are going to be consumed by consumers. And we know that many, many consumers, especially ones that that consume a lot of weed. Want that highly pungent, fresh skunky gassy smell. When in the lifecycle of a plant, are you doing the harvest? How long is the cure? Like what's the best timeline to maximize the BSC content?
Iain Oswald 55:45
Oh, man, I mean, that's that's a whole project in its itself right there, right? I mean, we did one we did one grow study with four different clones. And then we took averages from them over the course of the plant's life cycle. I can't remember how many weeks of flowering it was just a gelato clone that we procured from a dispensary here in LA, shout out clone guy industries. But the I think it was eight or nine weeks of flowering, I can't remember. And again, that's variable, like you mentioned, based on what the variety is you're doing. But I'm not sure I don't want to misinform anybody that might be listening to say that, you know, it has to be this exact time, because I think we need to do controlled experiments to see, okay, as a function of plant growth, if you just let this thing just keep going, don't even harvest it, just let it keep growing and growing and growing till the, you know, the trichomes are well past Amber's attorney and whatever colors after that, what happens to these compounds? And until we have that information, I don't know if that's necessarily a question that we can answer, you know, really, as scientists very well. And the other thing I want to mention is that, you know, somebody's growing gelato. And you know, as a first time grower with a set of nutrients versus somebody else is using a different set of nutrients. How does that potentially impact these compounds? We don't necessarily know the answer to that either. And that, but that's something that we're interested in, and we're looking into, you know, there might not be any relationship, right? I know, I've heard a lot of talk about people saying, well, if you just bump up, especially after a paper is published, people will just say, well just throw a bunch of sulfur or magnesium sulfate and tear, bump those levels up when you're growing. And it'll just make more of these things. Well, here's the thing, sulfur assimilation, and plants is very highly regulated. And actually, one of the other speakers at the conference, we were at Nurit, who's from Israel, she mentioned to me that they've looked very briefly at a few things. And you know, that they were adding excess potassium sulfate, and one of the papers she showed, and I think magnesium sulfate, and they didn't see any beneficial growth characteristics. In fact, like lower yields, the plants were more stressed out. Now, granted, they weren't measuring the, you know, these, these VSCS that we're looking at, but that's something she actually reached out to me to discuss. But, you know, that could influence this as well. So not just when are you harvesting? How are you carrying, you know, how long and you know, the humidity of the room, that sort of thing, but also, you know, the actual growth conditions are most likely going to affect these things as well.
Nick Jikomes 58:23
So I guess from a consumer standpoint, the one thing to look at here, to ensure that you're gonna get the freshest smelling most pungent cannabis possible, you would be looking at the difference between how long it's been from the harvest date, to the package date, and you want that to be as small as possible,
Iain Oswald 58:39
entirely. And actually, you know, think about this, Nick, when you're, when you're in the store, and you're, you're buying milk, are you buying milk based on the furthest date out, or the the nearest, you know, the nearest date out, that is going to expire? And you know, that you use that as a measure of how fresh is this milk? Right. And so I think that this is a very overlooked aspect of cannabis in general, especially on the consumer side. And that's just because it's, you know, they're not necessarily educated in this respect, right, they just assume it is like milk, where if you go to the store, it will be fresh, it will be good, you know, they're not going to put something that's six months that will hold out on the shelf. But I'm sure some places do do that. Right, they need to sell that product. And so, I do think that, you know, that's, that's an educational thing that I think folks need to really hammer it and hey, I think that's an opportunity for some companies, to that's a marketing angle be like, you know, we have, you know, farm to market within, you know, a month's time or less, whereas you look at everybody else's time, it might be two to three months. Right. And so that's the sort of, you know, I think, you know, sort of thing that these companies can be leveraging with this information as well. Obviously, they would want the testing done that, you know, we can do and potentially other labs in the future can do to validate that But I think that, you know, that's that's an aspect that could be, you know, people could really hammer home.
Nick Jikomes 1:00:06
Yeah, I mean, this also, I mean, it makes sense why so many people want to grow their own weed. I mean, it's sort of common sense like, well, of course, if you grow your own, you can harvest it yourself. And it's as fresh as possible. But I think what you guys have really shown us, yes, and like literally a lot of these things, which dictate aspects of the aroma that we know people are after, they really do drop off very, very quickly.
Iain Oswald 1:00:30
Yeah, entirely. And, you know, that's why it's cool that California lets people do that. You know, I think that's, that's really awesome. I will say, though, you know, we've worked with some of the biggest manufacturers of cannabis in the industry. And, you know, there, as far as you know, the, the aspect of cannabis, I would say that has the biggest art form, still to it is the curing stage. And I think that's one thing that we really want to look into more deeply is tracking, these are the function of different carrying conditions, because a lot of folks I think, that do do home growing, that's probably the pitfall is that process, because you do need it controlled situation, you need control conditions, you know, environmental conditions, how long to go for there's, you know, there's no necessarily handbook for telling you how to do this, because people haven't had this chemical information to kind of show through data, that this is the best process to do it. And it might end up being variety specific as well, which would complicate things even more. Right. But the point being is that, you know, I think using chemical data to guide those sort of aspects for home growers or otherwise, you know, we can have a paper that actually shows, okay, if you want to retain them, this is the best way to do it.
Nick Jikomes 1:01:42
So what what's on the horizon? In terms of what you guys are doing on the r&d side of abstracts, what kinds of questions are you looking into right now?
Iain Oswald 1:01:51
Yeah, so abstract, like I said, abstracts is working on many different projects, whole types of things, we are looking into cannabinoid research. Now, we are doing more of this volatile analysis, we're doing some different sorts of cultivation studies. You know, it's all and it's all revolving around the chemistry that we now have a understanding of beyond just the main terpenes or cannabinoids. And so, you know, to give you a highlight, I sent to a latest updated draft of this paper they've been working on for about four to six months. Now, it's been a while, but it's been in the works for kind of culmination of, since I've been at abstracts, it's going to summarize so much new information. And it is related to the volatiles that are produced by cannabis. And you know, how other ones beyond VSCS are important or not in the context of okay, what what aromas do these things actually produce? So again, you know, we're coupling that sensory aspect back to the chemistry, but it's gonna be much broader, I think it'll be more impactful for the industry, because it'll really highlight some misconceptions out there about how people interpret the limited data that is available. And yeah, maybe I'll put you as a reviewer for that when I submit it.
Nick Jikomes 1:03:05
Yeah, that'll be, that'll be fun. So talk a little bit more about, you know, what it's been like for you, as a, as a hard science guy trained in academia, to have moved into industry and into the cannabis sector in particular. You know, what, you know, what's it been, like, the last few years just in terms of your level of satisfaction, and how sort of intellectually stimulating it's been, and how it contrasts with, you know, life in the academic world?
Iain Oswald 1:03:32
Yeah, so the first thing I'll say is, I love working at abstracts. Our r&d team, basically, if you can put together a short one page proposal for something you're interested in working out the chemistry of, or, you know, answering a question that we, you know, that would honestly benefit the company, but also, you know, the broader public, go for it. And so, I consider myself a very creative person, you know, I come up with these different ideas for experiments and, you know, projects to look at on a routine basis. And so I think the cannabis industry is perfect for that. Because A, there are a ton of questions out there that are still needed to be answered. You know, we've already discussed a few here, just in the context of these VSCS. The second thing is, it's a fast paced industry, meaning that, you know, the faster you work, the more hopefully, hopefully that you'll gain out of it. And so, myself and our team, I think, we work kind of really well under that sort of mantra. And yeah, compared to academia, I mean, it's the best decision I ever made. Because, I mean, Nick, you you also you know, you did graduate school. And I'm sure you're aware that you know, things can be very, very slow in that world. There's a lot of usually red tape and bureaucracy involved in many decisions. In an especially related to the research and cannabis. I mean, it's really difficult to do that period in an academic setting. Right. And so, you know, we have we've, we've been trying to establish a few relationships with, with different universities, you know, different experts in different various fields that could help, you know, push our understanding of this plant forward. But it's always tough. So I really like it. I love working at abstracts the team's great. And, you know, basically the world is your oyster as far as if you if you want to do research and answer some cool questions.
Nick Jikomes 1:05:26
What I mean, what, you know, what else? Are
Iain Oswald 1:05:29
you excited about what's going on in cannabis research right now that that you've seen recently? Yeah. So I think something that's really cool. And I don't know if you saw this, Nick. But about two or three days ago, a paper was published by Brody, who also gave a talk. At the conference, we were at the award ceremony. And it's pretty cool, because I've seen him give that talk twice now. But you know, the story wasn't really fleshed out until this this later conference. But yeah, just came out since scientific reports, good journal. And he's talking about, you know, what is this oxidation of cannabidiol, that that occurs, right, this this purple junk that you see, after a few months of these products being sitting on the shelf? And it's, it's really interesting, because, you know, this could have, you know, talks, toxicological ramifications, regulatory ramifications, and it's, it's neat seeing them apply hard, organic chemistry to this problem that's pervasive throughout the industry. So I think that's really cool.
Nick Jikomes 1:06:28
Does that? Really, does that mean that CBD can go bad?
Iain Oswald 1:06:32
On percent? 100%? Can Yeah. And you know, Mark, Mark is Rogen and Brody been working on that for a while? And it's, you know, I think this is just going to open up more questions to answer now, because what they found is actually there's this an ionic species that floats around, and it has that the absorbance of it, the visible absorbance matches up with that purple color, much more so than the previously thought, quite unknown. So the basically the unknown can react to form some other species, and it's that other species, that's the, you know, this purple culprit. And so, you know, well what's the texel? You know, toxicology of that compound, right. And so I think that's really neat. I think that's great for us as an industry because, you know, it's still kind of the Wild West in cannabis. And you know, even the CBD, I mean, the hemp worlds with DEA, it's just, it's even more wild west than a legal cannabis. But I think that that's great, because, you know, we have to be somewhat self regulating, I think, and what are we putting into these sorts of products? What is the safety? And so I'm glad folks like Brody are doing that sort of research.
Nick Jikomes 1:07:35
Okay, so So if a consumer has a CBD product and sitting around for weeks, especially if it's exposed to, you know, air or light or whatever, that it will eventually go bad.
Iain Oswald 1:07:47
Yeah, well go bad in the sense that your CBD is converting into something else? Yes. You know, I can't speak to again, what the toxicology is of those byproducts. I know that there was another paper that just was published in, I think it was an ACS family journal, Journal of toxicology, I think that this group looked at CBD during vaping. And they looked at the aerosol. And what they found is, CBD actually converts into the quinoa and during that process, which they are known by itself could actually have some therapeutic benefit. I know that Mechoulam looked into it quite quite a bit in relationship to you know, cancer and, and, you know, killing cancer cells, that sort of thing. But at the same time, it could also be detrimental to, you know, your, your lung health. And this is what this group showed that, you know, some of the cell studies showed some sort of, kind of eye opening sort of results. So it's still early on, right? You know, these are just two papers that came up very recently related to this safety aspect, but it's something that I'm glad that folks are doing for sure.
Nick Jikomes 1:08:52
So just to kind of summarize all the work that you did with BSCS volatiles or sulfur compounds that are found in nature, they're in garlic, they're in skunk littoral, the animal, the animal skunk, the aerosol that they produce. Similar compounds are present in cannabis. These things are highly dependent on the maturity of the plant, they're highly volatile. So the fresher the cannabis, the more you're going to see and it quickly drops off. And there's a relationship between the type of strain and vse content. So strains with certain terpene profiles tend to have very low levels. Other strains tend to have very high levels. So the there's a lot of variability there. And you sort of want the freshest weed possible, meaning the harvest date, and the package date are as close together as possible. And you want strains that have that one type of terpene profile, that's going to be low interpersonally. And if you want to maximize vse content,
Iain Oswald 1:09:50
yeah, that's a great summary of that pretty much and,
Nick Jikomes 1:09:52
you know, something else I'll
Iain Oswald 1:09:53
mentioned that it's a, you know, a curiosity for us to try to eventually work out is The fact that we do see this difference between tropical enrich and everything else indicates there could be some sort of genetic difference, right? There's obviously something you know, is going on here with those varieties don't have it. So elucidating.
Nick Jikomes 1:10:13
I think that's almost certainly true. Without getting into the weeds. You know, when you do like PCA and the types of analysis we did, the way that the clusters segregate on those axes, to me would be highly suggestive that there is a pretty binary genetic difference between those two. And I suspect that those hydroplane strains, maybe just have a synthase, that the other ones don't or something.
Iain Oswald 1:10:36
Yeah, and so, you know, that's something we're really interested in is, you know, what, what is the biological, you know, the biosynthetic route for these compounds to be produced. And I think it's great that we, you know, nature produced us to control these terpinolene, rawicz Rich varieties versus, you know, these limonene, myrcene, etc. And so, you know, we've talked very briefly with like medicinal genomics into perhaps trying to tackle this problem, we haven't moved very far on it, but I think that's something that'll be really, really important. And not just from like, a pure fundamental, you know, understanding on the scientific level, but also, you know, okay, well, if we know that there are specific genes, and they correlate with, you know, varieties having more than less, can you do some fancy sort of breeding projects that are guided by that genetics more easily? You know, can you screen the genetics of seeds, looking for how many copies of this gene that produces these prenylated VSCS? Are there? And can that help expedite kind of the breeding process? So I think you can really be helpful if we could work out those sorts of you know, those details as well. All right, well, yeah,
Nick Jikomes 1:11:43
this has been fascinating. You know, I think this stuff is super interesting. I think a lot of people are gonna find this illuminating, too, because a lot of this information just sort of hasn't bubbled out into wider awareness yet, even within the cannabis industry. Any final thoughts that you want to leave people with or anything you want to reiterate in terms of what we talked about? Yeah.
Iain Oswald 1:12:02
I mean, I think the first thing is that, you know, abstracts, I think you're one of our core goals is to, you know, educate the public. And so that this is our first step. You know, this is the first quick big question we wanted to answer. We publish, we've done that. The next thing is, what are what is what else is out there? And so you know, it's just a sneak peek of hopefully in the next few months, we'll have this other publication out. And maybe we can have another discussion, but kind of elucidating all the other aromas that cannabis produces, you know, what, what's the chemistry behind that?
Nick Jikomes 1:12:35
All right, well, Dr. Ian oswaal Thank you.
Iain Oswald 1:12:38
Cool. Thanks, Nick. Appreciate it.