🫠 This Week in Psychedelics

[5-min read] AbbVie inks a $2B deal with psychedelic biotech Gilgamesh Pharma.

Welcome to Tricycle Day. Pharma execs can try all they want to take the magic out of the medicine. But no one’s taking the magic out of this newsletter. 🪄

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Find a qualified therapist, facilitator, or coach near you. 👈

Here’s what we got this week.

  • Tweaked toad medicine shows promising results 🐸

  • CA legalization bill gets an unexpected backer 🏛️

  • AbbVie collabs with a psychedelic biotech 📈

  • How to become a modern, mystical guide 🧙 

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MICRODOSES
🔬 Research

No more trauma drama: Compass Pathways shared topline results from its Phase 2 trial of psilocybin in PTSD.
That’s mental: Psychedelics might make you see plants and rocks as conscious beings.
Survey says: Most Americans who’ve tried psychedelics had a positive experience.
Mind bending: Psilocybin group therapy may enhance psychological flexibility.
Real-world results: IV ketamine led to rapid and long-lasting reduction in symptoms of PTSD.

🏛️ Policy

Bye-bye, bottleneck: A bill that would clear a block to psychedelic research advanced in the California Assembly.
Sign here: Bills that would set up psychedelic task forces are headed to their respective governors’ desks in Vermont and Alaska.
For science! The DEA has postponed its hearing on the proposal to ban DOI and DOC, two psychedelics favored by researchers.
The great equalizer: A federal official says psychedelics have more bipartisan support in Congress than cannabis.
They’re influencers now: The EMA held a meeting on LinkedIn to broadcast its plans for psychedelic medicine in Europe.

📈 Business

Lululemon tek: The eldest son of Lululemon billionaire Chip Wilson wants to make psychedelics the new yoga.
Tag, you’re it: Numinus is handing off all Canadian clinic operations to Field Trip Health.
Big money, small dose: MindBio Therapeutics, a company focused on clinical microdosing, looks to license Enveric Biosciences’ novel psilocin prodrug for $66.5 million.
Houston, we have a funding problem: Psychedelic drug developers collectively need $2-3 billion to get their medicines to market.

🫠 Just for fun

Yikes: Ohio State’s commencement speaker who drew boos from the crowd took ayahuasca to write his speech.
Grass Valley: This rural town in NorCal may become a hub for psychedelic art and culture.
Drugs or sacraments? The New York Times looks inside an Austin-based psychedelic church.
Meme of the week: Why you so quiet? What’s on your mind?

THE PEAK EXPERIENCE

A new target for psychedelic medicine

There’s a question psychedelic researchers have been wrestling with that really pisses some people off.

Trigger warning, psychonauts. The question is: can you keep the benefits of psychedelics but lose the trip?

We know, we know. The subjective experiences feel super important. Maybe you gain new perspective on a childhood memory, or for the first time you see yourself not as an isolated individual but as part of something greater. How could that not play a role in your healing?

Is it possible though? What if it’s all just brain chemistry and nothing more? This week, researchers at Mount Sinai made strides toward finding out for sure.

By tweaking 5-MeO-DMT, the “god molecule” found in the Sonoran Desert Toad, they found a new compound that may offer all the therapeutic benefit with none of the hallucinations. Here’s what they did.

  • 🎯 Honed in on a different target. There’s a serotonin receptor called 5-HT2A that usually gets all the love in psychedelic research. Instead, the scientists took a closer look at the lesser known 5-HT1A receptor. (5-MeO-DMT binds to both.)

  • 📐 Made a few changes. They synthesized a new molecule based on 5-MeO’s structure. The new one, called 4-F,5-MeO-PyrT, selectively binds 5-HT1A and leaves 5-HT2A alone.

  • 🐁 Tested the effects on mice. The new compound apparently relieved the rodents’ anxiety and depression. And it didn’t cause the signature head-twitching that tells us they’re tripping balls.

So maybe, just maybe, there is a way to get the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics without the trip. And we’ve been focused on the wrong receptor all along.

Any tool that helps us tackle the looming mental health crisis is great. It’s just a shame the lil’ mice didn’t get a chance to meet their mousey creator. 🫠 

AFTERGLOW

California dream teamin’

Californians have been fighting the good fight for years now. But so far, every attempt at state-level decriminalization or legalization has come up short. Could it be they’ve just never had the right people backing the effort? This week, a new coalition appeared with some unlikely members, all determined to get the latest psychedelic therapy bill over the finish line.

The new group, called the Alliance for Safer Use of Psychedelics, includes seasoned lobbyists, several nonprofit orgs focused on veterans’ mental health, and the PAC that bankrolled Oregon and Colorado’s psychedelic ballot initiatives. But the most surprising contributor is the Coalition for Psychedelic Safety and Education—yep, the very same parent-led public safety group that opposed last year’s decriminalization bill.

To win their support, Sen. Scott Wiener only had to walk back his vision for full decrim and limit Senate Bill 1012 to regulating therapeutic access. (Gov. Gavin Newsom made the same request when he vetoed SB-58 last year.) Now that the harshest critics are on board, who’s even left to oppose this bill? Cali, this could be your year.

Big Pharma is hungry

Looks like we’ve stumbled into an accidental theme this week. You know those non-hallucinogenic psychedelics we were talking about? Big Pharma wants a piece. To be specific, AbbVie (the juggernaut behind the blockbuster drug Humira) just inked a deal with the relatively tiny psychedelic biotech, Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals, to develop a whole portfolio of ‘em. If it works out, Gilgamesh could earn $2 billion or more.

First, AbbVie will pay Gilgamesh $65 million upfront to cover all the research into these “next-generation” (i.e., trip-free) therapeutics. Then, once they’ve identified some winners, AbbVie has the option to take over and lead the commercialization push. If everything goes according to plan, Gilgamesh would get the rest of the money in royalties and fees as certain milestones are hit.

Here’s a thought. If the pharmaceutical industry is dead set on cutting out the ‘inconvenient’ visionary effects of psychedelics, maybe that’s actually a good thing. Then, the natural and more mystical medicines might keep their home in traditional and ceremonial settings. The thought of having a full-blown spiritual awakening in a doctor’s office has always felt a little awkward, hasn’t it? Maybe the solution is a hard fork after all.

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DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. The use, possession, and distribution of psychedelic drugs are illegal in most countries and may result in criminal prosecution.

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