Microdosing Conundrum

The results of a  2018 study performed at Imperial College London which tested reported benefits of microdosing have been published. Over a 4 week period, participants were either given daily microdoses of LSD or placebos (2 distinct groups), and asked to perform mental wellbeing and cognitive tasks. 

What the study found:

  • All psychological outcomes had improved since the start of the experiment in “all domains of wellbeing, mindfulness, life satisfaction and paranoia…in both groups.
  • Researchers concluded that anecdotal benefits of microdosing can be ascribed to the placebo effect.
  • Imperial also found that microdosers positive expectations before they started microdosing were predictive of their subsequent positive improvements.

But is it really conclusive? 

Kim Kuypers, an associate professor at Maastricht University says microdosing is difficult to study and there tends to be a lot of “noise” with the results. In past experiments, using 5-20 micrograms of LSD she found results that could not be explained by the placebo effect. 

So why does Kim disagree? 

  • Microdosing may actually increase a neurotrophic factor, a protein that has been linked to brain plasticity. 
  • The study was not, however, able to link this finding to measures of wellbeing. 

This study  was  the largest placebo controlled psychedelic study to date. But with variables outside the researchers control the results are imperfect.  

Oops, atai did it again

The Peter Thiel-backed psychedelic startup raised another $157M in their series D raise, following the $125M that they raised in November 2020. The company is rumored to be preparing for an IPO with a valuation of $2B

Let’s run it back again

  • atai is pursuing a range of treatments for mental health conditions) using substances including, but not limited to, DMT, arketamine and psilocybin.
  • atai owns a portfolio of ten companies which are all working on a different compound to help treat mental illness. This includes Compass Pathways, which has patented a synthetic version of psilocybin and is listed on the Nasdaq with a $1.6B valuation. 

atai is going to be using the proceeds to go on a big hiring spree, already it looks like they will be increasing their staff by about 50%, as 20 jobs are already posted on their website

SpoCAN they decriminalize it? 

A new ballot initiative in Spokane would effectively end enforcement of federal laws around the possession of psilocybin. City voters could decide on the proposal as early as November 2021 if it garners enough support.

What it means

  • If successful, the initiative would prohibit local law enforcement from devoting any resources to enforcing psychedelic possession laws. 
  • Possession of 6 ounces or less of dried mushrooms is the cities “lowest possible law enforcement priority”
  • Laws would be amended to ban the use of psilocybin in public places. 

After filing, the initiative has been passed to the city hearing examiner who will determine its legality. “This is mostly about safety, and this is acknowledging certain legal substances that are accessible – like alcohol, for one – are far more dangerous” said Mason Lord – who filed the initiative.  

Iowa Passes on Legalization

An Iowa lawmaker who has been trying to legalize mushrooms for medical use had his bill defeated 3-0 in subcommittee.  

Down in defeat The bill was defeated because the subcommittee members want to learn more about clinical trials of the drug, and prefer that the State wait until the FDA clears psilocybin for medical use. 

The best part of Awakn up, is Licensing Deals with Universities

Awakn, a clinical biotech company, has partnered with the University of Exeter in order to validate their Ketamine in the Reduction of Alcoholic Relapse (KARE) therapy. They are designing a phase 3 trial with the University. 

Awakn KARES:

  • The study is a four armed placebo controlled trial assessing ketamine combined with \ psychotherapy in the treatment for AUD.
  • Phase 2 of the study indicated that there is a demonstrable increase in the quality of life of people who suffer from AUD after ketamine assisted therapy.
  • The study is the first of its kind, combining ketamine and psychotherapy to treat AUD. 

Awakn has been using psychedelic therapy to treat addictions and other mental health issues and the university of Exeter has world class research facilities, including  a  just completed £350M research facility.

Report Readout

Therapist Jayne Gumpel believes that integrating psychedelics and MDMA  into couples therapy could provide deeper insights and a greater likelihood of post therapy success. 

NeonMind (CSE: NEON) , a company specializing in psychedelic mushroom research for therapeutic use has hired a Ryerson Psychology professor Frank Russo as a clinical advisor. Russo will assist the company in developing psychedelic treatments that include music as a part of their therapy. 

Demand for Psychedelic experiences as a personal development tool has increased so much that some practitioners are making as much as $140/hour for “underground” sessions. 

European companies are set to dominate the market, Compass Pathways, ATAI Life Sciences, and Psytech are all examples of organizations that are pushing towards large market shares. 

Canadian scientists and researchers are wary of the dramatic uptick in therapeutic psychedelic use. They are worried that there are not robust enough studies done to inspire the type of confidence that they are seeing from organizations. 

Entheon Biomedical has appointed Nancy Maher, Special Advisor of Data Science and Regulatory Affairs