Crag News

CRAG and IRTA expand their international partnership with Front Range Biosciences to address the growing threat of Hop Latent Viroid disease in cannabis

Spanish Agency of Medicine and Medical Devices (AEMPS) has just granted IRTA and CRAG the permit to work with medical cannabis for the third year in a row

The Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) and the Institute of Agriculture and Food Research and Technology (IRTA) have expanded their international technology agreement with US-based company Front Range Biosciences® (FRB), a cannabis and hemp genetics platform company leveraging next generation breeding technology. The agreement further builds on an existing partnership between the FRB, CRAG, and IRTA formed in 2019 to develop research tools for the genetic improvement of cannabis plants adapted to the specific needs of cultivators in different climatic zones. With this new project, FRB expands the agreement by licensing its proprietary technology to include methodologies for detection of hop latent viroid disease (HLVd), a severe threat to the cannabis industry that can cause devastating reductions in plant growth, yield, and potency. Moreover, the Spanish Agency of Medicine and Medical Devices (AEMPS) has just granted IRTA and CRAG the permit to work with medical cannabis for the third year in a row, a renewal that guarantees the continuity of the cannabis research projects.

“CRAG is a world class research centre, and we are pleased to extend our partnership with them by introducing technologies and services that will transform cannabis medical markets across Europe”, says Chris Driessen, CEO of FRB.

The newly expanded partnership provides CRAG and IRTA the opportunity to channel the expertise of FRB as a global leader in cannabis genetics and breeding to the European cannabis community by providing new diagnostic and pathogen mitigation tools. It will also help bolster IRTA-CRAG’s cannabis molecular genetics and breeding programmes that harness trait discovery and marker assisted selection (MAS) to create improved cannabis cultivars adapted to different production environments, able to express the diverse cannabinoid profiles required by the pharmaceutical industry, and with improved resistance to pests and diseases.

Spain was one of the first European countries to decriminalize the personal use and cultivation of cannabis for self-consumption. Although cannabis has not been legalized for medical or recreational use, the country's Ministry of Health has authorized organizations to cultivate, process and test cannabis and hemp plants for medical purposes. This week, IRTA and CRAG have been granted for the third consecutive year the permit to work with medical cannabis by the AEMPS. The permit renewal, received as part of the exclusive partnership between CRAG, IRTA and FRB, allows the collaborating parties to continue advancing the development of medical cannabis genetics for the global marketplace.

“The expanded partnership leverages the technological expertise of FRB and the research capabilities and reach of CRAG to accelerate the adoption of cannabis for therapeutic uses in Spain and across the European Union”, says L. Maria Lois, Director of CRAG. “We are happy to expand our collaboration with such a diverse and innovative company as FRB”, she adds.