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Our Research

Pioneering the research of cannabis flavor and aroma.

When you think Abstrax, think cannabis science.

We perform peer-reviewed research in partnership with universities and industry-leaders like Mario Guzman of Sherbinskis, Josh D of OG Kush fame, and 710 Labs. Below you’ll find our growing list of case studies, white papers, patents, programs, and collaborations.

White Papers

The Science of Exotic

Part I: The Dawn of Flavorants

The aroma of cannabis is evolving, becoming increasingly diverse and complex due to the work of breeders across the world, who have sought the newest, most unique aromatic notes possible. While they have done so with great success, the chemical understanding for why many of these varieties smell the way they do has historically not been well understood.

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The Science of Exotic

Part II: The Curious Case of Chem

In this second installment, we delve into the captivating chemistry that underpins one of the most distinct aromatic characteristics sought in many cannabis varieties: the intriguing funky, chemical, and savory notes reminiscent of strains like GMO, Chemdawg, and beyond.

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Advancing Inhalation Safety in the Cannabis Industry

Risk Assessment and Toxicological Evaluation Program (RA-TEP)

RA-TEP aims to finally establish the acceptable ingredient use levels for terpene based flavors used in cannabis products, a novel approach that prioritizes consumer safety over all else. This has never been done before.

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How Terpenes and CBD Enhance Prosocial Behaviors

A Study by Abstrax and Western Washington University

In this research, scientists closely observed BTBR mice, a strain of mouse specifically bred for insights into Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The study aimed to understand how terpenes and cannabinoids influence ASD-related behaviors.

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Residual Solvents in Terpenes

Solvent False Positives and the Need for Standardization

There are currently no standardized testing methods for laboratories to use when testing terpenes and other aromatic compounds for residual solvents. The most popular method used today, headspace analysis, is ill-suited for the safety testing of terpenes and will often return false positives for solvents as a result.

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The Science of Dank

Discovery of New Cannasulfur Compounds

We have all smelt it – that distinctive, gassy, or skunk-like scent of cannabis. But what exactly is that smell? Researchers at Abstrax Tech, in collaboration with some of the top cultivators in the industry and analytical experts, have now answered this question — and the answer may surprise you.

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Legalizing BHO in Canada

Abstrax Convinces Legislators to Maintain Hydrocarbon Extraction

In an effort to prevent the passage of legislature outlawing hydrocarbon extraction, Kevin Koby, Chief Scientific Officer of Abstrax, took the opportunity to educate the Canadian government. Ultimately, Koby’s case study convinced legislators that maintaining this extraction method improves safety measures.

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Resin, Rosin, or Flower?

An Investigation of the Aroma Profiles of Cannabis Products

To understand the differences between different cannabis products, we conducted a study aimed at determining how the aroma and flavor profiles of the cultivar Tropaya changes between concentrate forms using 2D gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry and a flame-ionization detector (GCxGC–MS/FID).

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The Signature Series

The Cannabis Industry Has A Serious Problem

It all starts with authenticity. If every terpene company is selling the same cultivars and the formulas are all wildly different, then which one is the closest to the real authentic cannabis? We analyzed the Original Jack Herer flower and compared it to popular Jack Herer terpene blends on the market today.

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Quantified Mood Impressions of Abstrax AI Terp Effects Blends

A Cannabis Industry Milestone

Abstrax Tech and The Effects Lab by Budboard have teamed up with Dr. Avery Gilbert and sensory consulting firm Synesthetics, Inc. to produce the first sensory evaluation of cannabis-related terpene blends.

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The Lost Terpene

Detection of ß-Phellandrene in Jack Herer

Jack Herer possesses a unique and rarely discussed terpene, ß-Phellandrene. This compound is found in relatively high concentrations and is critical to the flavor and aroma of Jack, thus highlighting the need for more sophisticated analytical methods such as GC×GC when understanding the aroma of cannabis.

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Peer-Reviewed Publications

Minor, Nonterpenoid Volatile Compounds Drive the Aroma Differences of Exotic Cannabis

ACS Omega Editors’ Choice
Publication Date: October 12, 2023

Cannabis sativa L. produces a wide variety of volatile secondary metabolites that contribute to its unique aroma. The major volatile constituents include monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and their oxygenated derivates. In particular, the compounds ß-myrcene, D-(+)-limonene, ß-caryophyllene, and terpinolene are often found in greatest amounts, which has led to their use in chemotaxonomic classification schemes and legal Cannabis sativa L. product labeling. While these compounds contribute to the characteristic aroma of Cannabis sativa L. and may help differentiate varieties on a broad level, their importance in producing specific aromas is not well understood. Here, we show that across Cannabis sativa L. varieties with divergent aromas, terpene expression remains remarkably similar, indicating their benign contribution to these unique, specific scents. Instead, we found that many minor, nonterpenoid compounds correlate strongly with nonprototypical sweet or savory aromas produced by Cannabis sativa L. Coupling sensory studies to our chemical analysis, we derive correlations between groups of compounds, or in some cases, individual compounds, that produce many of these diverse scents. In particular, we identified a new class of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) containing the 3-mercaptohexyl functional group responsible for the distinct citrus aromas in certain varieties and skatole (3-methylindole) as the key source of the chemical aroma in others. Our results provide not only a rich understanding of the chemistry of Cannabis sativa L. but also highlight how the importance of terpenes in the context of the aroma of Cannabis sativa L. has been overemphasized.

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Identification of a New Family of Prenylated Volatile Sulfur Compounds in Cannabis Revealed by Comprehensive Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography

ACS Omega
Publication Date: November 12, 2021

Cannabis sativa L. produces over 200 known secondary metabolites that contribute to its distinctive aroma. Studies on compounds traditionally associated with the scent of this plant have focused on those within the terpenoid class. These isoprene-derived compounds are ubiquitous in nature and are the major source of many plant odors. Nonetheless, there is little evidence that they provide the characteristic “skunk-like” aroma of cannabis. To uncover the chemical origins of this scent, we measured the aromatic properties of cannabis flowers and concentrated extracts using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography equipped with time-of-flight mass spectrometry, flame ionization detection, and sulfur chemiluminescence. We discovered a new family of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) containing the prenyl (3-methylbut-2-en-1-yl) functional group that is responsible for this scent. In particular, the compound 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol was identified as the primary odorant. We then conducted an indoor greenhouse experiment to monitor the evolution of these compounds during the plant’s lifecycle and throughout the curing process. We found that the concentrations of these compounds increase substantially during the last weeks of the flowering stage, reach a maximum during curing, and then drop after just one week of storage. These results shed light on the chemical origins of the characteristic aroma of cannabis and how volatile sulfur compound production evolves during plant growth. Furthermore, the chemical similarity between this new family of VSCs and those found in garlic (allium sativum) suggests an opportunity to also investigate their potential health benefits.

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Cannabidiol and cannabis-inspired terpene blends have acute prosocial effects in the BTBR mouse model of autism spectrum disorder

Frontiers in Neuroscience
Publication Date: June 16, 2023

Introduction: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid with increasing popularity due to its purported therapeutic efficacy for numerous off-label conditions including anxiety and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Those with ASD are commonly deficient in endogenous cannabinoid signaling and GABAergic tone. CBD has a complex pharmacodynamic profile that includes enhancing GABA and endocannabinoid signaling. Thus, there is mechanistic justification for investigating CBD’s potential to improve social interaction and related symptoms in ASD. Recent clinical trials in children with ASD support CBD’s beneficial effects in numerous comorbid symptoms, but its impact on social behavior is understudied.

Results: We observed that CBD enhanced prosocial behaviors using the 3-Chamber Test with a different vapor dose-response relationship between prosocial behavior and anxiety-related behavior on the elevated plus maze. We also identified that inhalation of a vaporized terpene blend from the popular OG Kush cannabis strain increased prosocial behavior independently of CBD and acted together with CBD to promote a robust prosocial effect. We observed similar prosocial effects with two additional cannabis terpene blends from the Do-Si-Dos and Blue Dream strains, and further reveal that these prosocial benefits rely on the combination of multiple terpenes that comprise the blends.

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Chemical and Toxicological Characterization of Vaping Emission Products from Commonly Used Vape Juice Diluents

ACS Chemical Research in Toxicology
Publication Date: July 3, 2020

Recent reports have linked severe lung injuries and deaths to the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. Nevertheless, the causal relationship between exposure to vaping emissions and the observed health outcomes remains to be elucidated. Through chemical and toxicological characterization of vaping emission products, this study demonstrates that during vaping processes, changes in chemical composition of several commonly used vape juice diluents (also known as cutting agents) lead to the formation of toxic byproducts, including quinones, carbonyls, esters, and alkyl alcohols. The resulting vaping emission condensates cause inhibited cell proliferation and enhanced cytotoxicity in human airway epithelial cells. Notably, substantial formation of the duroquinone and durohydroquinone redox couple was observed in the vaping emissions from vitamin E acetate, which may be linked to acute oxidative stress and lung injuries reported by previous studies. These findings provide an improved molecular understanding and highlight the significant role of toxic byproducts in vaping-associated health effects.

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Abstrax Patents

Sulfur-Containing Volatile Organic Compounds in Cannabis

Publication Date: August 19th, 2021

We patented the usage of cannasulfurs (read our discovery here) in botanically-derived formulations and additions for a variety of product applications including edibles, aerosols, flavors, fragrances, and inhaleables.

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