🫠 This Week in Psychedelics

[5-min read] Oxford study identifies patient types who benefit from psilocybin therapy.

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Here’s what we got this week.

  • Who benefits most from psilocybin 🍄 

  • Reunion Neuroscience cashes in 9 figures 🤑

  • Doctors organize against MA legalization effort 🗳️

  • What to know before you enter ceremony 🕯️

FROM OUR SPONSORS
Psycon

An NBA champ, a biohacker, and a mycologist walk into a convention center…

Nah, this isn’t the setup for an awful dad joke. It’s what’s actually happening tomorrow through Saturday at Psycon Las Vegas.

With 100+ speakers and 75+ exhibitors locked in, it’s going to be a real “who’s who” of psychedelics.

If you’re in Vegas (or down to hop on a last-minute flight), pull on up. Day passes are available.

MICRODOSES
🔬 Research

Flooded with emotion: The Australian gov’t is dropping $3.8mm on a clinical trial of MDMA and nature therapy to treat PTSD in natural disaster survivors.
Ladies who LSD: MindBio Therapeutics will run clinical trials of its microdosed LSD for PMS and PMDD.
Good looking, too: Psychedelic users are less depressed and neurotic and more agreeable and extraverted than non-users.
Double trouble: A study at UW Med will explore psilocybin as a treatment for co-morbid PTSD and alcohol use disorder.
Dissociates in your mouth, not your hand: Gilgamesh has kicked off a Phase 2a trial of its oral ketamine-like drug for major depressive disorder.

🏛️ Policy

Power to the users people: Advocates marched to protest a Colorado bill that would ban social media users who post about psychedelics.
Too few mental health pros: So social workers are preparing for the psychedelic revolution.
Surveillance state: Denver Health has developed a new framework for monitoring psychedelic medicine use and outcomes.
Ready for August: Alaska’s House passed a bill to create a psychedelic task force.
Finding HOPE: Johns Hopkins and Oxford collaborated on a workshop and article to tackle the ethical challenges of psychedelics.

📈 Business

The man, the myth, the legend: Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS, made the inaugural TIME100 Health list.
Who’s got the popcorn? An FDA advisory committee will discuss Lykos’s application for MDMA-assisted therapy next month.
Sorry, Stanley Park: Vancouver’s latest tourist attraction is its illegal psychedelic dispensaries.
They sure get around: Compass Pathways struck up yet another partnership with a COMP360 delivery partner.
The other mushroom: Amanita muscaria edibles are on the rise, and they’re completely legal.
A path to parity: The nonprofit BrainFutures released a brief on ensuring equitable access to psychedelic-assisted therapy.

🫠 Just for fun

Surreal self-care: The founder of Meow Wolf is opening a psychedelic spa.
Monkey see, monkey do: Scientists collected the first record of a wild animal using plant medicine.
Going mainstream: Oprah Daily just dropped a whole series of articles about psychedelics.
Meme of the week: “I heard he takes preparation and integration seriously.”

THE PEAK EXPERIENCE
Psychedelic scientists running yet another study to demonstrate what people have known for millennia

Jury’s still out on psilocybin, apparently

Mushrooms are becoming impossible to ignore.

It feels like every week, we share a new study where psilocybin absolutely destroys the standard-of-care for depression or some other mental health condition.

But skepticism is at the core of science. Most people jump to conclusions; researchers keep asking questions, long after we mere mortals are convinced.

That’s a good thing, too. Because otherwise, we might never learn surprising nuggets like these…

In a paper published in The BMJ this week, Oxford scientists analyzed 7 prior studies that compared high-dose psilocybin to either placebo, niacin (aka vitamin B), or a microdose, as a treatment for depression.

Unsurprisingly, the participants who got a full dose of psilocybin had the best outcomes. On average, they were 2x more likely to respond and 3x more likely to achieve remission than those who got placebo.

But here’s the interesting part—not everyone’s the same. The participants who had the greatest response were:

  • 🧓 Older. The 436 participants ranged in age from early 30s to late 60s. The seniors had the best outcomes.

  • 😏 Experienced. Therapeutic effects were stronger in patients who’d taken psychedelics before.

  • 🤒 Unwell. People who had “secondary depression” (i.e., related to some underlying disease) fared better than those with primary depression.

Even though folks’ depression scores dropped significantly after taking psilocybin, the researchers from Oxford judged the certainty of psilocybin’s antidepressant effects to be low.

Too many unanswered questions for these scholars’ liking, you know.

If psilocybin is low certainty, then sheesh, I’d hate to see what rating they’d give SSRIs. 🫠

AFTERGLOW
We're so back

Energy goes where capital flows

This one goes out to anyone who’s been knocked down and gotten right back up. Reunion Neuroscience, a psychedelic drug development company that has escaped death twice, just made the comeback of the year and raised $103 million. The Series A round, led by MPM BioImpact (who took Reunion private last year) and Novo Holdings (parent co of the Ozempic manufacturer), will fund Reunion’s next phase of R&D.

The lead asset in Reunion’s pipeline is RE104, a synthetic psilocin analog that only lasts 3-4 hours—or half of psilocybin’s 6-8. In the near term, Reunion wants to study RE104 in postpartum depression. Down the line, they’re looking at cancer-related adjustment disorder and other psychiatric conditions.

Pretty wild that the same company that spun out of Field Trip Health just before its collapse, and then went on to risk a minimum share price violation on Nasdaq, just scored the second largest psychedelic investment of 2024. Remember that the next time you get sucker-punched by a difficult trip. Progress is anything but linear.

A new opponent has entered the chat

Massachusetts is one of the few states that’s actively pursuing psychedelic policy reform right now. Forget a meandering “task force." MA voters could legalize facilitated use (à la Oregon Psilocybin Services) as soon as this November via a controversial ballot initiative. But with the stakes so high, it’s also the battle ground for some of the psychedelic community’s spiciest debates.

This week, a new coalition of doctors from the Mass General lodged a formal opposition to the legalization measure. Dubbed the Coalition for Safe Communities, these docs say they do believe in psychedelics’ mental health applications. They’re just concerned that letting people grow mushrooms at home—another provision of the ballot initiative—will undermine public safety. Essentially, they’re all for controlled access but against broader decriminalization.

The irony is, the measure has already faced backlash from a different group called Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, who hold almost the exact opposite opinion. As diehard decrim proponents, they’re worried that a regulated, taxed system could price out the people who need psychedelics most. We can’t say how this will all shake out in November, but one thing’s crystal clear: you can’t please everyone.

CYCLISTS’ PICKS
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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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