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ICC International Cannabis, Biotii and Y Combinator-backed biotech innovator to build Bioworks Foundry

CEO David Shpilt says within biological engineering living organisms are the ‘foundational factories’ by which ‘revolutionary products’ are devised
Opentrons next generation robot
ICC, which specializes in the acquisition of international cannabis assets, is building a Bioworks Foundry with robots

ICC International Cannabis Corp (CSE: WRLD.U) (OTC: WLDCF) announced Thursday that along with Biotii Technologies Corp it has sealed a design and automation agreement with Y Combinator-backed Opentrons Labworks Inc to collaboratively build Canada’s first privately owned high-throughput Bioworks Foundry.

International Cannabis already has a strategic investment in Boston, Massachusetts-based Biotii, a top private biotechnology company.

The new Bioworks Foundry will function as a staging ground for Biotii’s cannabinoid researchers and organism designers to manufacture and analyze prototype enzyme pathways, said the company in a statement.

READ: ICC International Cannabis is growing a worldwide cannabis cultivation and lifestyle brand

The planned facility will give International Cannabis and Biotii the opportunity to scale synthesized cannabinoid testing processes rapidly and cost-effectively by using:

  • Advanced DNA assembly protocols
  • Laboratory automation
  • High performance analytics

The completion of the Bioworks Foundry will catapult Biotii into an elite clutch of less than 20 labs worldwide that are equipped with the ability to automate genome assembly of multiple DNA fragments.

Opentrons robots for biologists 

Opentrons, which makes robots for biologists, will supply the foundry with its flagship OT-2 Robot to give Biotii access to a proven molecular biology platform, furnished with hundreds of existing protocols and over 5,400 software commits from a diverse community of researchers, including teams from Stanford University and the Mayo Clinic.

With International Cannabis’ financial backing and Opentrons’ advanced engineering frameworks going into the planned Bioworks Foundry, the Biotii team hopes to deliver on its 2020 mandate to produce cannabinoid in hundreds of metric tonnes per annum boasting:

  • Stable and consistent yields
  • Pharmaceutical-grade purities
  • Lowest production costs in the space

The company said Biotii's scalable synthesizing processes will enable the manufacture of “a wide range of cannabinoids,” including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) inexpensively compared to conventional cultivation and extraction processes.

Making revolutionary products

“Within the sphere of biological engineering living organisms are the foundational factories by which revolutionary products are devised,” said ICC International Cannabis CEO David Shpilt. “Designing preeminent synthetic cannabinoids requires a different category of factory, one where best-in-class tools in automation, analytics, and software can all function in symbiotic fashion.”

Shpilt said the automated Bioworks Foundry will permit “efficient scaling of organism design,” thereby allowing engineers to expedite the prototyping of thousands of unique biological designs.

“Opentrons presents a flexible platform and supports a growing community of users, providing ICC and Biotti with access to continuously expanding set of modules, protocol, and capabilities,” said Shpilt.  

Opentrons OT-2 Robot enables the execution of complex, repetitive task-loads that cannot be replicated by traditional human lab staff.

“The OT-2, for example, can run four times as many experiments in the same sized plate, and efficiently dispense liquids with precision in much less time,” said Shpilt.

Accelerating cannabinoid R&D

The Bioworks Foundry will accelerate cannabinoid R&D, allowing the companies to capture significant IP within the fast-developing biosynthesis market for cannabinoids.

“With Opentrons, we are ready to start building our revolutionary Bioworks Foundry. We have the flexibility to develop whatever automated processes we want, even, and especially, if the manufacturer hasn't thought of it yet,” said Biotii’s co-founder and CEO Dr John Harrold. “This will give Biotii and ICC the advantage in developing not only our target products faster, but also the tools to produce subsequent targets more efficiently.”

Meanwhile, Will Canine, co-founder and CPO of Opentrons, a company that’s setting out to help life scientists automate many of their experiments using robotics, said he was happy to start a “relationship with Biotii and ICC.”

“I am excited to see what new uses Biotii's engineers will be come up with to get the most out of the OT-2," said Canine.

Contact Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter@UttaraProactive 

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