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Medicinal Genomics, Courtagen Receive NIDA Grant to Detect Toxins in Cannabis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Medicinal Genomics and Courtagen have been awarded a Small Business and Innovation Research grant to develop technology to detect toxins from microbiological contamination of medical marijuana, the companies said today.

The Phase I award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse is for approximately $150,000 and will go toward developing immuno-PCR-based tests, Mike Catalano, senior director of marketing for Medicinal Genomics, said in an email.

The firm already has quantitative PCR tests that can detect the presence of harmful bacterial and fungal contamination. The new tests will be developed to detect toxins produced by such microbes, which may be left behind and continue to pose a danger to a cannabis user, even if the microbes are no longer present, Medicinal Genomics said in a statement.

The first test developed under the grant will for detecting the mycotoxin paxilline, a product of the P. paxillin fungus.

Kevin McKernan, CSO of Medicinal Genomics and Courtagen, said in a statement that fungal infections such as aspergillus and penicillium can cause illness and death. "Having tests available to detect both the primary source of contamination and their toxic byproducts will allow the industry to improve the safety profile of medical cannabis even further," he said.