New Zealand’s MedCan Summit 2021 will see Helius Therapeutics share what it has learned about new plant pathogen Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd) and its potential impact on medicinal cannabis crops.

After discovering HLVd, previously known as ‘dudding’ or ‘stunting’ disease, in a research cannabis crop, Helius began work to better identify and understand it.

It is thought likely the viroid, which the Ministry of Primary Industries recently registered as a new plant pathogen, has been in New Zealand for a number of years.

Chief executive of Helius Therapeutics Carmen Doran said: “I’ve been really enthused by the recent industry collaboration on the Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd) prevention initiated by Helius together with Plant & Food Research and BioLumic.

“MedCan 2021 will be a great way to continue the dialogue, [and share] experience and ideas on how to protect and grow our industry now and in future.”

MedCan 2021 organiser Dr Zahra Champion

Executive director of BioTechNZ and MedCan Summit 2021 organiser Dr Zahra Champion said it is crucial that the event features a presentation on HLVd.

“Its early discovery, considerable local research, and greater sector-wide collaboration will undoubtedly protect New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis sector going forward,” she added.

The event, which takes place in Auckland on October 12 and 13, will feature international speakers, an exhibition area and a dedicated stream for healthcare professionals. Topics for discussion include seed to sale, clinical trials, prescribing, patient case studies, and the social, cultural and economic benefits of the industry to New Zealand. The final program will be announced in July.

Dr Champion said: “MedCan 2021 will help local companies accelerate their path to market through valuable insights into exporting, innovation and education. We’ll present the latest medical and scientific findings and breakthrough technologies, and we’ll explore the current challenges and opportunities around the likes of investment, agritech, pharma manufacturing, and clinical trials.”

“Local companies have been plugging away for three years now and have invested heavily. It has been a costly entrepreneurial endeavour, but Kiwi companies are on the precipice of market entry which is great news for suffering patients here and abroad,” she added.

For more information visit medcansummit.co.nz.