March 7, 2019
Q: How did LexaGene come about and what’s its niche in the marketplace?
A: The technology originated from work developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the purpose of biological threat detection. We’re now leveraging the success of that platform to make a more powerful genetic analyzer because we’re not just focused on biological threats, but on veterinary diagnostics as well. Our instrument is what we call an open access instrument, where you can go in, play around with and make it customizable.
Q: When it comes to using medical cannabis, what are some of the biggest challenges for patients?
A: I would say the biggest challenge right now is it’s classified as a Schedule I narcotic, and not all people respond to it in the same way. Ten to 30 percent of the population have variations in their genome with potential side effects from the drugs.
Some of these risks are short term side effects, but there’s also concerns about long term side effects, such as psychosis or even memory. It’s important for people to understand while there are some benefits to these drugs there’s also some risks.
Q: What markers stand out for patients with respect to potential side effects?
A: There’s a variety. Among some of the human genetic factors that influence your response to these cannabinoids are CYP2P9 and CYP2C19. Depending upon which alleles you have you may be a fast metabolizer or a slow metabolizer, so dosing with THC might have a greater impact if it takes you longer to break it down. And then there’s AKT1 and COMT. There are genotypes of these two genes that actually put you at higher risk of developing psychosis. There’s also markers which are correlated with dependence on this drug.
Q: Is that limited to cannabis or other drugs as well?
A: I don’t know that answer.
Q: I’ve talked with scientists about similar work being done in Israel. How does your analyzer differ from other technology out there?
A: We are the easiest to use sample-to-answer genetic analyzer that looks for many different genetic targets at once. It’s fully automated and it’s extremely user friendly.The other ones out there are manually done. We’re still in development but I’m not aware of any platform out there that allows for hands free access.
—Contributed by Justin Zaremba, NJ Cannabis Insider