The Cannabis Market and Venture Capital

This is going to be simple.  Venture capital works when organizations have an idea that scales upward.  Medical devices, software, lots of other examples.  Competitors in the same space who will compete or compliment in the marketplace are handy as well.

Marijuana farms do not scale.  They are small operations with growth through the addition of new greenhouses.  Everyone wants to grow “the best dope you ever smoked” and that is a time intensive process.  You cannot get rich on this idea, especially when the price of marijuana is trending downwards with the removal of the illegality premium and the desire to make the product into a commodity.  Keeping those damn kids out of your yard is yet another problem.

It is also a challenge when the process is all cash and no real tracking systems to ensure the validity of the books in any direction.  How do you take cash which is tracked and taxed and move it into a cash business with no real information on how the return is to be processed?  The structure of these investment group is designed to avoid legal linkages between members of the organizations and their technologies.

Commodities to enhance your experience do not scale.  Glass containers and metal containers continue to drop in price as they will be manufactured less expensively.  So will the many ways to absorb THC into your system, as users will become less interested in the perfect experience and seek out the price appropriate experience.  Sometimes, we buy the $12 Belgian beer, sometimes we buy PBR.  It’s all the same process in all the markets.

We are currently working with a technology which would be used by law enforcement.  The interesting part in visiting with the VCs in this space is how they see the market.  The growth is limited and the goal is to supply products and consumables for the users.  Unlike other markets, there is no big data upside (Hello, Attorney General Sessions!) or opportunity to do anything other than sell glass and metal things to enhance your experience.

Our application is more of a biotech and of limited interest to a group of people who do not want to see law enforcement in their area.  If you are interested in testing people for THC while they are driving, let us know.

DiCodon Diagnostics, CEO

Earle Hager has been named CEO of DiCodon Diagnostics, a Penn Center for Innovation (PCI)company.  Joseph Nadolski has accepted the position of Chief Operating Officer for the company.  Along with PCI, Earle and Joe will drive opportunities for research, licensing, and joint ventures for the company.  DiCodon Diagnostics is a Delaware corporation, headquartered in Philadelphia.  For more information, please check the DiCodon Diagnostics website.


Based on NDIR gas sensor technology, the OptoScannar™ relies upon wavelengths in the visible spectrum. This technology has been recently employed for sensing glucose in interstitial fluid for improved diabetes management.

With non-dispersive infrared spectroscopy, an infrared beam passes through a sampling chamber and each gas component in the sample absorbs some particular frequency. By measuring the amount of absorbed infrared at the necessary frequency, the concentration of the gas component can be determined. It is called non-dispersive because the wavelength which passes through the sampling chamber is not pre-filtered, and instead the optical filter is in front of the detector to eliminate all light except the wavelength which the selected gas molecules can absorb.

Until recently, this sensing technique has been used sporadically for detecting concentration of molecules in the liquid phase and without much success. In the gaseous phase, molecules are very well separated in space detecting them optically is relatively free from deleterious scattering related noises.

When this optical sensing technique is used with liquids such as blood or interstitial space in the human body, the molecular density is many fold greater. This density drives noise from the greater scattering of the source radiation away from the detector. Heretofore, near IR detection of compounds in skin has been unsuccessful.

OptoScannar’s parent company, Airware, has recently introduced a new measurement technique to can control this deleterious scattering noise.


The OptoScannar™ device is a non-invasive, optical monitor that senses THC concentration in blood, eliminating the need for invasive blood extraction. Through a novel technique for illumination and direct absorption in the “optical tissue window”, we minimize the scattering effects of light in tissue achieving high “signal to noise” for detection of specific absorption levels for fast, accurate measurements.

OptoScannar’s target markets are:

· Law enforcement – Requires a portable, field sobriety detector for monitoring THC levels in blood.

· Doctors and hospitals – Administering and monitoring patients using cannabinoid therapy.

· Home medical users – Monitoring various cannabinoid products for best effectiveness.

· Recreational users – Monitoring residual THC levels for legal compliance at work and driving.

The THC sensing technique is non-invasive, accurate, and fast. Users of cannabinoids will now be able to measure total dose levels and monitor their trailing residual levels for managing their dosing regimens. Law enforcement will now have a portable evaluation method to assist in fair and legal field sobriety testing. Our sensing technique can also be tuned to sense other compounds in skin such as CBD and THCV.

Airware’s Direct Infrared Laser Absorptive Scattering Technique (DILAST™) brings the “time” element into play by employing fast alternate and sequential pulses from a signal and a reference narrow-band light source. The signal radiation is preferentially absorbed by the targeted molecules and the reference radiation, which is close in wavelength to that of the signal and has minimal absorption by the targeted molecules in the medium under test. The detector outputs of the fast pulse pairs, which see essentially the same fixed environment, are ratioed and appropriately averaged to generate the concentration of the targeted molecules.

In this optical measurement arrangement, both the signal and reference beams essentially experience the same scattering events differing only in the absorption of the targeted molecule. The effect of deleterious scattering on the measurement is significantly suppressed.

Currently, OptoScannar™ has filed four patents. The company is pre-money and sixteen months from distributing initial devices. Our plan is to work with a contract manufacturer in the U.S. to build, test, calibrate, and package the hardware.

We are aware of potential competition from breathalyzer devices and saliva tests in development. For the time being, a blood test requiring about 7 ml is the most precise measurement of active THC. The OptoScannar™ will potentially become the fast, accurate, non-invasive standard for THC home and law enforcement field testing.

DiCodon Diagnostics – Abstract – Dicodon monitoring of protein synthesis (DiCoMPS)reveals levels of synthesis of a viral protein in single cells


The current report represents a further advancement of our previously reported technology termed Fluorescent transfer RNA (tRNA) for Translation Monitoring (FtTM), for monitoring of active global protein synthesis sites in single live cells. FtTM measures Fo¨ rster resonance energy transfer (FRET) signals, generated when fluorescent tRNAs (fl-tRNAs), separately labeled as a FRET pair, occupy adjacent sites on the ribosome. The current technology, termed DiCodon Monitoring of Protein Synthesis (DiCoMPS), was developed for monitoring active synthesis of a specific protein. In DiCoMPS, specific fl-tRNA pair combinations are selected for transfection, based on the degree of enrichment of a dicodon sequence to which they bind in the mRNA of interest, relative to the background transcriptome of the cell in which the assay is performed. In this study, we used cells infected with the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2-Ibaraki and measured, through DiCoMPS, the synthesis of the viral non-structural protein 3 (NS3), which is enriched in the AUA:AUA dicodon. fltRNA Ile UAU-generated FRET signals were specifically enhanced in infected cells, increased in the course of infection and were diminished on siRNA mediated knockdown of NS3. Our results establish an experimental approach for the single-cell measurement of the levels of synthesis of a specific viral protein.

Nucleic Acids Research, 2013, Vol. 41, No. 18 e177 doi:10.1093/nar/gkt686

Sima Barhoom1, Ian Farrell2, Ben Shai1, Dvir Dahary2, Barry S. Cooperman3, Zeev Smilansky2, Orna Elroy-Stein1,* and Marcelo Ehrlich1,

1Department of Cell Research and Immunology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel,

2Anima Cell Metrology, Inc., Bernardsville, NJ 07924-2270, USA and

3Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6323, USA

Received May 29, 2013; Accepted July 2, 2013

The Author(s) 2013. Published by Oxford University Press.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DiCodon Diagnostics – New Technology – University of Pennsylvania

DiCodon Diagnostics, LLC is a biotechnology company developing a diagnostic platform technology based on a novel methodology called Diagnostic DiCodon Monitoring of Protein Synthesis (Di-Di). The technology is patented by and licensed from the University of Pennsylvania and based upon research by Dr. Barry Cooperman.

Di-Di presents a new approach to disease diagnosis. It is based on distinguishing diseased from normal cells on the basis of differences in dicodon usage during translation, and visualizing such differences through the use of specific fl-tRNA FRET pairs that bind to specific dicodons within a ribosome actively catalyzing protein synthesis. As many as 1035 discrete fl-tRNA pairs can be monitored, different sets of which can serve as biomarkers for specific diseases.

Our goal is to provide point of care results which will lead to earlier detection of diseases and better patient outcomes by getting patient treatment faster. We are seeking grant, joint development and commercialization opportunities for this technology.

The company is in the early stages of developing a microfluidic device coupled with very sensitive optics for rapid, point of care diagnoses of specific infections. We are currently working on developing grant opportunities for this development. DiCodon Diagnostics is interested in partnering its diagnostic development programs while also planning to provide DiCoMPS FRET monitoring as a central lab.

The patent is based upon United States Patent Application, “Fluorescent Labeling of Transfer RNA and Study of Protein Synthesis”, number 0140329234. The patent application was filed on November 6, 2014 by The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.

The following research papers would be of interest for more information on this technology:

Dicodon monitoring of protein synthesis (DiCoMPS) reveals levels of synthesis of a viral protein in single cells

In vivo single-RNA tracking shows that most tRNA diffuses freely in live bacteria

Quantitative single cell monitoring of protein synthesis at subcellular resolution using fluorescently labeled tRNA

Kinetics of initiating polypeptide elongation in an IRES-dependent system.

Earle Hager has accepted the role of CEO of this company.