Sundial Growers, feds supporting cannabis research

University of Lethbridge team to examine impact on inflammation, as well as study potential anti-cancer properties

Mario ToneguzziAlberta-based Sundial Growers has received a research grant to study and genetically map more than 100 cannabis cultivars.

The company announced on Tuesday that Sundial is contributing $247,500 to the research and that is being matched by a grant from the federal government’s Mitacs Accelerate Program. University of Lethbridge professors Drs. Igor Kovalchuk and Olga Kovalchuk will conduct the research.

“Sundial is putting scientific research at the forefront of its product development strategy,” said Sundial president Geoff Thompson in a news release. “This long-term research program will provide valuable data and insights that will become the foundation for future studies and will contribute directly to the development of new cannabis products.”

The company said the study will support the work of eight researchers at the University of Lethbridge, who will characterize the various cultivars’ growth parameters, analyze cannabinoid and terpene profiles and identify breeding lineage in order to select the most promising varieties for further analysis.

Additional research on the most promising cultivars will examine their impact on inflammation, as well as study their potential anti-cancer properties.

Sundial Growers is a privately-held, Alberta-based licensed cannabis producer. It operates two facilities in Alberta, including its flagship, purpose-built modular cannabis production facility in Olds and a second production facility in Rocky View. It plans to build a third facility in British Columbia.

By 2019, Sundial expects to be one of the leading cannabis companies in Canada with projected production of more than 120 million grams of dry cannabis and the ability to process more than 30 million grams of cannabis extracts.

Sundial will provide space at the company’s licensed production facilities for growing and phenotyping new cultivars and studying plants. It said it will also provide cannabis cultivation materials and expertise, as well as office and laboratory space for researchers who are conducting the studies.

“There is a significant absence of information about the genetic characteristics of hemp and cannabis cultivars that are sold in Canada,” said Igor Kovalchuk.  “Sundial is taking the lead on understanding the medicinal properties of cannabis through meaningful scientific research.”

Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.

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