Psilocybin Is The Most Studied Psychedelic

Psilocybin is the focus of more researchers and more business developers than ever before as study after study demonstrate its range of effectiveness. 

In fact, to date, over 27,000 scientific articles have been published on psychedelic drugs, with over 1,000 particularly on psilocybin as of May, 2021, according to one study that also found that psilocybin is the most studied psychedelic right now.

Psilocybin is also one of the top ten drugs used in the world (alcohol is first), according to a global drug survey, doubling in use from 2020 to 2021. 

There are over 40 patents filed since 2019 about various uses of psilocybin formulations and delivery methods (22 in 2021 alone), and 77 published patents since 1958 (35 in 2019 and 2020 alone).

What is being discovered is that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy has greater promise for a wider range of human health treatments—with more being added all of the time. 

For instance, it can provide long-term relief from cancer-related psychiatric distress, according to a study, where psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy created improvements in psychiatric and existential distress, quality of life, and spiritual well-being. 

Another study, sponsored by Compass Pathways (NASDAQ: CMPS), a mental health care company and developer of the COMP360 psilocybin therapy, was conducted at the Maryland Oncology Hematology (MOH) at the Aquilino Cancer Center. Their study of psilocybin therapy to treat depression in cancer patients found that 50 percent of participants experienced remission in depression symptoms after a single administration of psilocybin therapy.

Cybin is in the discovery phase with the a molecule which is in the same family as MDMA. But it has tryptamine-like properties, like psilocybin, and appears to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. “So that means that in low psychedelic doses, it could have utility for maybe Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease or MS,” Doug Drysdale, CEO of Cybin, told Psychedealia. “So there could be broad utility with these molecules, depending on which mix of receptors they hit, and depending on what dose level.”

Psilocybin has been shown to help with addiction, specifically tobacco addiction. “The results of this pilot study cannot be taken as solid evidence for the efficacy of psilocybin for smoking cessation,” researchers concluded in that study. “However, the high rates of abstinence compared with existing medications provide justification for a larger randomized trial the present authors are currently conducting.”

Tobacco cessation researchers are also jazzed about the historic grant from the National Institutes of Health awarded to Johns Hopkins Medicine to explore the potential impacts of psilocybin on tobacco addiction. This was the first NIH grant awarded in over a half century to directly investigate the therapeutic effects of a classic psychedelic.

Clairvoyant Therapeutics is evaluating psilocybin-assisted therapy in a Phase II trial as a potential treatment for alcohol use disorder. Cybin is tackling alcohol abuse treatments as well. 

But it’s not just how psilocybin works within the human body. It’s also about new methods of extraction and synthesizing the psilocybin molecule.

For example, researchers are looking at new extraction techniques using e-coli, according to a 2019 study. Miami University researchers took genes responsible for producing psilocybin, added them to the bacteria E. coli, and created a new strain they called pPsilo16, saying the process was similar to the fermentation process to make beer. “This is the highest psilocybin titer achieved to date from a recombinant organism, and a significant step towards demonstrating the feasibility of industrial production of biologically-derived psilocybin,” researchers concluded.

In addition to having the potential to treat depression, mood and anxiety disorders, psilocybin has also demonstrated analgesic effects as shown by the numerous clinical studies on the treatment of cluster (“suicide”) headaches, intractable phantom-limb pain, and chronic pain. In some cases, psilocybin was comparable to or more efficacious than traditional medications such as opioid analgesics.

Nearly every day, a new announcement about psilocybin hits the news desks. Here’s a sampling:

– March 14. Telescope Innovations Corp., a chemical technology company, announced it has engaged Translational Life Sciences Inc. to evaluate the potential therapeutic effects of Telescope’s proprietary, psilocybin-like novel chemical entities.

– March 14. Numinus Wellness Inc., a mental healthcare company advancing innovative treatments and safe, evidence-based psychedelic-assisted therapies, announced that its research lab, Numinus Bioscience, has been approved by the Public Health Agency of Canada for a Containment Level 2 (CL2) pathogens and toxins license, following upgrading of the facility. The addition will enable the company to, in part, conduct bioassay studies using mammalian cell lines, to analyze the bioactivity of different whole mushroom formulations that contain both psilocybin and other psychedelic compounds.

– March 15. Novamind Inc., a mental health company specializing in psychedelic medicine, announced that it is conducting a phase II clinical trial investigating psilocybin for major depressive disorder, sponsored by the Usona Institute.

– February 10. Mindset Pharma Inc., a drug discovery and development company focused on developing next generation psilocybin-inspired medicines and related technologies, announced that several of its proprietary, novel and diverse psychedelic compounds are demonstrating strong potency and efficacy, superior to psilocybin in in-vivo proof-of-concept studies.

“We’re on the verge of a paradigm shift,” Drysdale said. “We are moving away from giving people a tablet every day for their depression, which is a bit like a set of chemical handcuffs where yes, maybe their depression is a little better, but they also can’t feel joy,” he said. “We are moving away from that to these intermittent treatments with psychedelics, which after one or two treatments could get patients months of benefit, which is completely unlike anything else we’ve ever seen in mental health. So I’m more excited than ever about it, and that data just keeps coming. Hopefully soon the mental health treatment landscape will look very different than it does today.”

Dave Hodes

David Hodes is a business journalist based in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He has contributed feature articles to several cannabis and psychedelics publications, as well as general business/lifestyle publications, on a variety of topics. Hodes was selected as 2018 Journalist of the Year by Americans for Safe Access. He is a member of the National Press Club, and the deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.

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