Trouble Down Under

A memorandum released by an Australian body of psychiatrists this week is sparking debate. This memorandum was a factor in Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) preliminary decision not to reclassify psychedelic medicine. Australian doctors in favor of reclassification have reported that they are not surprised by the decision but that they are disappointed in the content of the memorandum. The fact that the statements on the report perpetuate the stigma around these treatments is still an issue.

Key Takeaways : 

  • The TGA is not quite ready to separate “illicit” substances from potential therapeutic medicine. Going as far as to cherry pick data to backup their decision.

  • Critics say there was a clear lack of transparency around the process that went into forming this memorandum. Several key specialists complain they were not consulted before its release.

MAPS and Fireside Project Collaborate on Psychedelic Hotline 

As there are more people who are using psychedelics, there will be more need for support. This led MAPS and Fireside Project to set up the first national support line for psychedelics. This support line goes live in April, and anyone in the United States will be able to text message, call or live chat to discuss their experiences, negative or positive, with psychedelics. 

  • The support line will engage the expertise of both these organizations, addressing both therapeutic and recreational usage. This will be the first ever psychedelic peer support line specifically aimed at helping people understand their psychedelic experience. 

  • This arrangement will eventually involve MAPS Zendo Project, which provides safe spaces and care for people having “bad trips” at festivals. 

Partnerships like this are important for normalizing the use of psychedelics and reducing the stigma associated with them. 

Field Trip is Expanding its Jamaican Operations 

Field Trip Health (CSE:FTRP) has announced the opening of a research and development laboratory in Mona, Jamaica. This facility represents the world’s first legal research facility dedicated solely to magic mushrooms and other naturally occurring psychedelics.

Facility Facts:

  • This facility is opening as part of Field Trip’s partnership with the University of the West Indies. 

  • The focus of the research will be on genetics, cultivation and breeding, identification of novel molecules and increasing the understanding around proper QA methodologies for mushroom facilities. 

  • Research at the Facility will be led by Dr. Rupika Delgoda, Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology & Pharmacognosy and Director of the Natural Products Institute at UWI, who holds a D.Phil. from Oxford University (UK) in Pharmacology.

This facility opening expands Field Trip’s capabilities deeper into R&D alongside their clinic offerings.

Can COMPASS Patent That?

The Peter Theil backed psychedelics company kept their intellectual property lawyers very busy in 2020. Last year, COMPASS Pathways (NASDAQ:CMPS) filed patent claims for items that many would consider the basics of psychedelic assisted therapy.  These claims include “rooms with a non clinical feel,” “comfy furniture,” “holding a patient’s hand” and “high resolution sound systems in the treatment room”. 

Can They Do This? 

  • The claims are broad, and these processes have been used in therapeutic treatments for a long time. According to Graham Pechinik, an IP lawyer, there is next to zero possibility that COMPASS is going to get this patent claim through without substantial redrafts. And it is unlikely they would ever be able to take legal action against any organization using these processes. 

  • A process needs to be novel to be patented; it does not appear that the claims in question qualify. 

Speaking of COMPASS, they have recently expanded their Discovery Center. 

The Center is the result of collaborations with world-leading labs at the School of Medicine at UC San Diego and the Medical College of Wisconsin. This Discovery Center was established in 2020 through Compass and University of the Sciences. This expansion will involve a group of PhDs and other experts in their field, working together virtually.

Need to Know:

  • Compass will be the sole licensee for all compounds generated at the Discovery Center. 

  • New Team Members include:
    • Dr. Adam Halberstadt, an expert on the behavioral neuropharmacology of psychedelics. He leads a team studying how psychedelics interact with serotonin systems and the implications for psychedelic therapy. 
    • Dr. John McCorvy is a receptor pharmacology expert. His lab at MCW studies receptor signaling elicited by psychedelic, antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs. 

Are Antidepressants Bringing You Down? 

SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) also known as antidepressants, have been shown to interfere with MDMA assisted psychotherapy. Patients with SSRI exposure were more likely to continue to meet PTSD diagnostic criteria after MDMA-assisted therapy. So basically – if a patient is taking antidepressants, they are less likely to respond in a significant way to MDMA therapy. 

  • In a study of 50 patients, 16 were tapered off their SSRI medication before they were administered MDMA, 34 were not tapered off. The study results showed that the group that had been tapered off SSRI’s had much better results (⅔ no longer meeting the criteria for PTSD). 

Mixing Antidepressants with Rec Drugs

Here’s a breakdown from Vice on SSRI’s interaction with the following:

  • Cannabis: Anecdotal evidence and studies suggest that it may heighten anxiety and increase the comedown time and “rebound effect” of cannabis induced anxiety. 

  • MDMA: SRRI’s seem to interfere with the receptors that MDMA interacts with, meaning that the experience of MDMA is reduced by a substantial amount. This could result in taking more MDMA and potentially inducing serotonin syndrome or other adverse effects of MDMA. 

  • Cocaine: Cocaine can severely undermine the effectiveness of antidepressants, as well as potentially causing serotonin syndrome as well. It may also heighten anxiety during a comedown.

  • Alcohol: Generally interacts badly with antidepressants and stops them from functioning properly. 

Report Readout

  • Good news in New Jersey, possessing small amounts of psilocybin can no longer result in a multiyear prison sentence.

  • Delic Holdings (CSE:DELC) has entered into an agreement to acquire Ketamine Infusion Centers LLC, a company operating out of Arizona. 

  • According to the New York Times, growing mushrooms is easy, therapeutic, and a way to escape the turbidity of the modern world. 

  • Tryp Therapeutics announced that it has executed an advisory agreement with Dr. Joel Castellanos, a chronic pain physician, to join the company’s Scientific Advisory Board.

  • Backers of Oregon Measure 109 (which legalized therapeutic uses of psilocybin) announced the creation of a nonprofit called the Healing Advocacy Fund. This fund’s aim is to aid in the measures implementation.

  • Xphyto Therapeutics subsidiary Xphyto labs, is adding mescaline to its psychedelic medicine program. 

  • CaaMTech Inc. announced its first patent application combining cannabis and psychedelics has been successful. 

  • MindMed announced a partnership with Swiss startup MindShift Compounds AG to develop and patent next-gen psychedelic compounds with psychedelic or empathogenic properties.

  • A Texas lawmaker introduced a bill that would require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine in the treatment of certain mental health conditions.