COMPASS Pathways has recently engaged with Hamilton Morris, a research scientist and film-maker, as a full-time consultant. Mr. Morris will be working at the COMPASS Discovery Center at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. COMPASS will be using him in an advisory capacity for their research on new and novel psychedelic compounds.
Who Is Hamilton Morris?
Hamilton Morris is the creator of the Vice documentary series Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia (we highly recommend the episode on psychedelic fish). The goal of Mr. Morris with this series was to investigate the cultural relevance and chemistry behind various psychedelic drugs.
- Morris currently carries out chemistry research at USciences, alongside the COMPASS Discovery Center. Studying the science of pharmacology and psychedelics with a focus on the synthesis and history of dissociative anesthetics.
- Several other psychedelic companies, including Mind Cure Health use Hamilton in an advisory capacity.
Lars Wilde, the Chief Business Officer and Co-founder of COMPASS believes that “Hamilton’s deep knowledge and enthusiasm will enhance our ability to find new and novel compounds for our portfolio of therapies”.
What’s COMPASS up to?
COMPASS is currently engaged in the research and development of synthetic psychedelic compounds and delivery methods. They are accelerating patient access to alternative and innovative mental health options.
- Their proprietary synthetic psilocybin (COM360) had been designated a breakthrough therapy for treatment resistant depression by the FDA. It is currently being used in phase 2B clinical trials across Europe and North America.
COMPASS’ end goal is to create a world in which universal mental wellbeing is attainable.
Journey Colab is a biotech firm (really, at this point what psychedelic company isn’t a biotech firm?) that just received $12M. The proceeds of which will be used to advance human clinical trials and forward the study of hallucinogenic compounds found in cactus (mescaline). These clinical trials will be considered as phase 1 of the research.
- Journey has committed itself to developing a synthetic version of mescaline. With the end goal of using it alongside talk therapy for the treatment of AUD (alcohol use disorder).
Alcohol Use Disorder
AUD is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.
- AUD is a condition that has been “an intractable problem for many decades now,” said Journey Colab CEO Jeeshan Chowdhury, M.D.
- The current treatment for AUD mainly involves symptom based medications, therapy and AA meetings. The issue is that these have limited reach and efficacy, they do not do the best job at equipping sufferers of AUD with the ability to break out of the abuse cycle.
Psychedelics offer the benefit of “brain remodeling” for patients suffering from AUD. When used in conjunction with talk therapy, it could create lasting and permanent changes.
Journey believes that mescaline is ideal for mental health therapy because of its tolerability. There is no evidence showing mescaline as being addictive, making it especially useful for vulnerable populations.
- Mescaline is less potent than other psychedelics in terms of overloading the amygdala and disrupting patients’ ideas of self and thought.
- It is long-acting, which can help patients through longer periods of brain remodeling. Increasing the likelihood of new, learned behaviours.
The series A round will also ramp up the development of Journey’s broader portfolio. The company isn’t divulging what compounds or diseases it’s working on besides mescaline, but has highlighted the importance of creating new tools for healthcare providers and patients trying to overcome mental illness, particularly addictions.
EU and UK relations Buoyed by academic studies, the psychedelic ecosystem in Europe is thriving. Especially in terms of commercial healthcare. More than ever, companies are attracting innovative ideas, capital, and mainstream societal support. Increasing collaboration between companies seems to be an inevitability.
Octarine Bio, a Copenhagen based drug company that uses fermentation to produce psilocybin. Has partnered with Clerkenwell Health, a British research organization to develop and deliver clinical trials.
- Octarine is using yeast fermentation to create psilocybin from sugar. The production is low cost, sustainable, and has a stable supply chain.
- Clerkenwell Health is accelerating the psychedelic sector through clinical research support. Their roster includes world-class researchers in the field and they are building out a Center of Excellence for therapeutic research.
- The partnership will allow Octarine to expedite its clinical development of its biosynthetic psilocybin. Fast tracking clinical trials and production. It will also help to fix the problem of obtaining the high quality psychedelics that are required for clinical research.
Patients involved in clinical trials will soon be receiving psilocybin produced in European labs. Which should accelerate industry growth and increase efficiencies by creating a more accessible and stable supply chain. By using fermentation, Octarine has created a highly scalable, IP protected output mechanism. Using fermentation, new and novel psychedelics can be created by simply swapping a few genes.
The Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research has received a $5M dollar grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.
Use of proceeds
- The intended use is for the development and support of training and education for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy practices and other psychedelic medicine approaches.
- The grant will support the VA Medical Center and its pursuit of research and medical partnerships. With the goal of ensuring that after FDA approval, psychotherapists will be properly trained and certified.
- Additionally, the money will be used to develop MDMA delivery protocols for group psychotherapy for veterans with PTSD and establish postgraduate fellowship programs.
Training and education has been viewed as a major potential bottleneck in the psychedelics industry. With new protocols and innovations happening seemingly every day, it is hard to establish best practices. By leveraging knowledge gained from clinical trials, Mount Sinai believes that it can create an in-depth, best-in-class training program for therapists.
A recent phase 3 clinical trial sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies (MAPS) demonstrated significant benefits for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for chronic PTSD: it not only promotes symptom reduction, but could potentially provide a cure.
Wesana Health has recently announced the acquisition of Psychedelitech Inc. also known as PsyTech. Wesana is focused on developing approaches for understanding, protecting and improving neurological health and performance. This includes through the advancement and use of psychedelic medicine. PsyTech has developed a platform for the treatment of neurological health. Their platform can help Wesana accelerate their technical capabilities and go-to-market strategy.
Wesana is working with traumatic brain injuries, and they believe the acquisition of PsyTech will accelerate their ability to understand and improve neurological health and performance of their patients.
The price of the deal is approximately $21M CAD in Wesana Health stock and will make PsyTech a wholly owned subsidiary of the company. This acquisition will add three major components to Wesana’s current business.
- A Clinical SaaS platform ‘Tovana Solutions’. A medical grade platform that is designed to help improve mental health protocols and tracking.
- An integrated mental health practice network ‘Tovana Clinics’. This chain of health clinics is focused on delivering ketamine therapy and preparing for the delivery of other psychedelic therapies.
- PsyTech Connect, the industry’s largest professional psychedelics practitioner community and educational courses. The community has over 8,000 engaged professionals, psychiatrists and other resources.
As the transaction closes, Wesana is hoping that they have positioned themselves to play a major role in the future of psychiatric and neurological medicine.
It appears that Seattle is in the process of decriminalizing the possession of psychedelics. The process has been in the works since June, when 7 out of 9 Seattle City Council Members signed a letter to investigate the benefits of psychedelics for therapeutic use.
Mindset Pharma Inc. has been exploring how to measure the specific psychedelic effects of their compounds with greater accuracy. In partnership with InterVivo Solutions, Mindset has trained rats to discriminate psilocybin effects from saline via oral and subcutaneous dosing, which to the company’s knowledge is a first in the psychedelics field of research.