By Marguerite Arnold
Lexaria Corp. (OTCQB: LXRP) is not the average marijuana tech-related startup. For one thing, its founders originally began their careers in oil and gas. These days, the company is a research-intensive food sciences company. And, perhaps in a testament to their wild-catting days, on the front lines of a high growth industry with both scientific prowess and business acumen.
In August, the company announced the results of its new research and findings. During third-party experimentation in two phases of tests beginning in June 2015 and just completed this month, Lexaria’s patent pending technology helped to drastically improve gastrointestinal absorption of cannabidiol.
“Our study delivered two main discoveries,” said Chris Bunka, Lexaria’s CEO. “Our manufacturing process of incorporating the CBD molecule within black tea leaves led to a 325% higher absorption rate. Incorporation of our formulation excipients, sunflower oil and milk powder, following our proprietary process led to a 499% higher absorption rate.”
The study was a strictly controlled, test tube experiment using human intestinal tissue. Samples of Lexaria’s commercially available CBD-infused black tea product ViPova were administered in the samples.
“We believe that most of the absorption is happening in the small intestine,” Bunka said. “We know for certain two things: one is that our technology, even without additional fats, works to help absorption. The other is that this new way of manipulating the payload molecule works even better with a lipid.”
This is a fascinating and potentially industry-changing development in a year when delivery methods remain on the front lines of legislative decision-making.
Even though this was a limited, laboratory test, the company is excited about the next stage of its development. “Because live cells in a living person are connected to a blood supply and are subject to the full spectrum of gastrointestinal processes that we could only partially model in the lab, there are good reasons to believe that the ultimate absorption proportion in real people could, in theory at least, be even higher than it was with the petri dish cells,” Bunka said. “So possibly even better absorption than smoking!”
According to Bunka, the scientific research that is available about the absorption of cannabis shows that smoking delivers about 30% absorption, vaping around 20% and edible ingestion only about 5%. Because Lexaria appears to be able to dramatically improve cannabinoid absorption, “we believe it is reasonable to suggest that we may have nearly achieved parity with the absorption levels of smoking,” Bunka said.
If that were true, it would dramatically change the game already in at least two states— New York and Minnesota—and possibly begin to shape regulations in many others, starting with California. Both smoking and vaping are very controversial still, and it is easy to forget that it was only this year that Alaska, which has yet to launch a fully regulated industry, became the first state to issue regulations on concentrates.
Bunka of course is well aware of the potential of his product and his company’s technology. “Subject to some limitations, we hope to begin live animal testing in the near future,” he said.
In the meantime, the product is available for sale in the CBD version. “All the cannabinoid molecules are very similar in structure,” Bunka said. “We expect no material differences when we test the bioavailability of THC molecules.”
Long term, the company has big dreams. “We believe our discovery helps the medical cannabis market expand to something much larger than it is today,” Bunka said. “And we think our technology could be licensed by the industry to make it available to all. Sort of like ‘Intel Inside’ but for pot!”