A $125 million bet on toad venom

GH Research, a Dublin-based biotech company just closed on a Series B funding round worth a cool $125 million. They’re betting on 5-MeO-DMT, aka toad venom, to treat depression.

  • 5-MeO-DMT, or toad venom in slang term, is present in certain toad species native to the South-Western US and North-Western Mexico. It can also be derived from plants or made synthetically.
  • GH’s leading program is an inhalant called GH001 used to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders, including depression.
  • GH001 has completed a Phase I study with healthy volunteers.
  • They are keeping 2 additional indications under wrap for that same compound.
  • An injectable formulation they are calling GH002 is also in the works.

The round included investments from RA Capital, RTW Investments, BVF Partners. Acuta Capital Partners, Boxer Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Deerfield Management Company, Logos Capital, Surveyor Capital, Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners and Verition Fund Management.

Major criminal justice reforms gain traction in Texas

The Texas House of Representatives approved a bill that would require the state to conduct a study into the therapeutic potential of several psychedelics.

  • House Public Health Committee passed the bill an outstanding vote margin of 134-12.
  • Amendments were made to strictly focus the clinical trial study on military veterans with PTSD.
  • Study will be carried out by Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center.
  • They will assess the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine.
  • Health and Human Services Commission would be obliged to submit quarterly reports on their progress, and conclude by December 2024.
  • Former Gov. Rick Perry (R), who recently made the news on this subject, is continuing his support to approve this psychedelics legislation.

Rep. Alex Dominguez (D), who sponsored the bill, made a hard-hitting point when he said “We lose about 6,000 veterans every year—and since 2001, we have lost 114,000 of our veterans to PTSD and suicide.”

Just last week, the House also approved a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, and recently passed proposals to expand the state’s medical marijuana program to reduce penalties for possessing cannabis concentrates.

Another early milestone for natural psilocybin extracts

Optimi Health  (CSE: OPTI) and Numinus Wellness (TSXV:NUMI) are keeping the industry’s momentum going in the direction of natural solutions. The fruit of their collaboration has been a significant progress with the natural extraction of psilocybin.

  • Optimi received a research exemption under Health Canada Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) for the use of Psilocybin and Psilocin for scientific purposes.
  • Through Impact Clinical Trials Accelerator at the University of Calgary, they’ve submitted a pre-clinical trial application to Health Canada.
  • Numinus plans to use the mushroom clone to develop a uniform all-natural psilocybin capsules for consistent dosing during Optimi’s human clinical trials.
  • Cultivation, research, formulation, and continuous validation studies to produce the investigational psilocybin extract for trial continue at the Health Canada-licensed Numinus lab in British Columbia, Canada.

And the milestones keep coming

Numinus Bioscience recently received amendments to its federal license to allow a broad range of activities with psychedelics. This includes ketamine, LSD, mescaline, DMT, MDMA, psilocin and psilocybin.

With a vertically-integrated approach, Optimi will cultivate, extract, process and distribute mushroom products at its two facilities; a total of 20,000 square feet nearing completion in Princeton, British Columbia.

More patients in Canada turn to psychedelic-assisted therapy

There’s a growing movement in Canada, led by patients, to increase access and awareness of psychedelic-assisted therapy to deal with end-of-life mental distress and anxiety.

  • Subsection 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) allows Canada’s Minister of Health to exempt any person or controlled substance from regulation, for a medical or scientific purpose, or in the public’s interest.
  • When eligible, the exemption allows an individual to purchase, possess and use a specified quantity of the controlled substance for their research.
  • Alberta-based ATMA Journey Centers received approval from Health Canada for 2 additional patients, bringing the total of approved patients up to 5.
  • ATMA was the first private company in Canada to conduct legal psychedelic-assisted therapy using psilocybin.

Making end-of-life trauma a thing of the past

The arguments for this type of end-of-life treatments are further explored in the documentary ‘A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin’.

ATMA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ravinder Bains had this to say on the subject: “Our experience with Mr. Tony White, the first palliative patient we worked with, generated outcomes that were nothing short of extraordinary. He was able to live out his last weeks with a newfound sense of peace and joy, and it had a dramatic impact on his family for which they are truly grateful.”

Major acquisition deal for clinics in Canada

Myconic Capital (CSE: MEDI) closed on an acquisition of clinics from Canabo Medical, a subsidiary of Aleafia Health (TSX: AH). With this acquisition, Myconic will expand its services through a network of 25 clinics across Canada.

  • The clinics will continue treating mental health conditions with substances which include intravenous ketamine, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and Esketamine nasal spray.
  • The clinics reported an increase of mental health problems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • During 2020, Aleafia generated about $3.5 million in revenues from the clinics.
  • Aleafia has seen more than 75,000 unique patients both in-person and virtually.
  • Myconic will exchange 7,000,000 common shares as part of the acquisition.

Canabo, Canada’s largest network of referral-only medical cannabis clinics, will continue to provide the services necessary to maintain current operations.

Report Readout

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