CB Therapeutics

CB Therapeutics(CB) is a biotechnology startup headquartered in Carlsbad, California. It was co-founded in May 2015 by Sher Ali Butt and Jacob Vogan. Using a proprietary, fermentation-based “Cellular Agriculture” process, the company develops contaminant-free, natural compounds such as cannabinoids and tryptamines. 

CB genetically modifies natural enzymes extracted from substances and expresses them in yeast. When combined with sugar and afforded optimal fermentation conditions, the modified yeast becomes a factory for producing these therapeutic compounds. CB’s process is highly efficient and cost-effective, boasting a production time of five days. 

The company’s automated, cloud-based bioinformatics platform was patented in April 2020. With it, CB can efficiently analyze large amounts of biological sequencing data, clarify biosynthetic pathways, and identify new enzymes to accelerate production.

Since its genesis, CB has demonstrated rapid expansion of its IP portfolio. The company is the first to scale cannabinoid manufacturing to the California market and the first to pursue a patent for the production of tryptamine-based compounds in yeast. 

According to their website, CB currently offers a selection of rare cannabinoid isolate products for research and commercial purposes, with more forthcoming. The current legal statuses of psilocybin and DMT limit the market for CB’s tryptamine-based compounds to usage in approved research trials. Scientists worldwide are studying these substances for their potential to treat depression, PTSD, and addiction in combination with psychotherapy. 

In 2018, CB was a 2018 finalist in Startup Battlefield, a competition held at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF conference. In March 2019, CB broke ground on a 7000 square foot research and manufacturing facility, significantly accelerating the company’s scaling ability. By December of that year, the startup announced it had successfully biosynthesized psilocybin, psilocin, and related tryptamine compounds. The announcement was highlighted in a March 2020 Psychedelic Science Review article discussing the expected trajectories of psychedelic technologies in 2020.

In April 2020, CB officially partnered with Cleveland Clinic to develop MDMA, and tryptamine compounds including psilocybin, DMT, and analogs for clinical trials. In a press release, Mr. Butt stated, 

It has been our goal, since the inception of the company, to achieve these production milestones and bring these promising compounds to the healthcare community…We look forward to being a part of these pivotal studies to seek solutions to some of mankind’s most challenging social and mental healthcare problems.

Two months later, CB announced that it had successfully biosynthesized DMT and made its first commercial sale of cannabinoids. In September 2020, CB reported it had improved its downstream purification process, enabling the company to produce pure extracts from raw materials. In a press statement, Mr. Butt explained, “Typically, most bioengineering and downstream technologies are able to produce small amounts of ‘dirty’ samples, which in practice are not very useful.” Dr. Vogan added, “With the ability to refine cannabinoids like CBC [cannabichromene], we can now port over these technologies for purification of other molecules in our portfolio, including other cannabinoids and tryptamines as well.”