🫠 This Week in Psychedelics

[5-min read] Neuroscience reveals a new psychedelic pathway.

Welcome to Tricycle Day. We’re the Disneyland of newsletters. We make your inbox the most magical place on Earth. 🏰

Here’s what we got this week:

  • Breakthrough in psychedelic neuroscience 🧠

  • Rhode Island legalization bill clears House ✍️

  • Psilocybin patents upheld 🧭

  • Can psychedelics heal racial trauma? 🖤

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Set & Setting

The top stories in psychedelic research, policy, and business

RESEARCH

Neuroscientists discover a new psychedelic pathway

Move over, 5-HT2A. There’s a new receptor in town.

In a groundbreaking paper published last week in Nature, neuroscientists proposed a new mechanism of action for psychedelics that nobody had been talking about. The discovery could be the key that unlocks 1,000x better antidepressant drugs without the hallucinations.

Up till now, most scientists believed that psychedelics’ antidepressant effects came from their ability to bind to a serotonin receptor called 5-HT2A. But the new research shows that LSD and psilocin also act on a totally separate pathway in the brain, which starts with a lil’ protein by the name of TrkB.

It’s pronounced “Track B,” but don’t you dare call me second choice.

Here’s how it works.

  • Step 1: LSD binds to TrkB. (It does this with 1,000x more affinity than the SSRI Prozac) 🎯

  • Step 2: LSD acts like a mini floatation device. TrkB rises from deep inside the neuron to its surface, where it’s better positioned for its next job. 🛟

  • Step 3: TrkB captures BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), floating by on the outside of the neuron. 🤏

  • Step 4: The pairing triggers a whole cascade of events that helps neurons grow, branch, and rewire. 🧠

Basically, the paper shows that psychedelics promote neuroplasticity — the process that allows our brains to learn, adapt, and change — but in a completely different way than we thought.

All the research has been done in cell cultures and mice so far (no humans yet), but we think it’s fair to say they’re on the right… track. *groans in dad joke* 😑

MICRODOSES

📈 Tripping’s trending: The number of 19 to 30-year-olds taking psychedelics has doubled in just three years, according to research out of University of Michigan. The latest figure, 6.6%, still leaves plenty of room for *ahem* growth.

🌞 Rollin’ with the (authorized) homies: Australia-based Elyria received ethics approval for a clinical trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. The company has already developed a licensable package, including its own care model and MDMA supply, for authorized Aussie providers starting July 1.

🧹 Out with the old… in with “LaNeo,” PharmAla’s trademarked MDMA capsule. The FDA has approved the drug for its first clinical trial, which will examine how well patients with schizophrenia tolerate MDMA.

😍 Obsessed: Based on a recent study, psilocybin shows potential as a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) even when its hallucinogenic effects are blocked.

POLICY

Rhode Island makes moves to legalize psilocybin

Art school kids at RISD may have a fresh source of creativity to tap into soon.

The Rhode Island House of Representatives has passed a bill that would legalize possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms. Now it heads to the Senate for consideration.

Under the proposed law, Rhode Islanders would be allowed to grow and keep up to an ounce of psilocybin mushrooms, either to consume themselves or to share with other adults. (Because sharing is caring. 🫂)

The bill also lays the groundwork for the state to regulate medical prescriptions if and when psilocybin is rescheduled at the federal level. That clause expires on July 1, 2025, but the FDA couldn’t possibly twiddle their thumbs for two whole more years, right? … Right?

Speaking of things that (we assume) make RISD students happy, Rhode Island already legalized cannabis last year.

Let’s just hope the antidepressant effects of shrooms don’t mute all that angsty turmoil that produces great art. Otherwise, we might have to lower our standards.

Drawings by people with mental illness

So raw. So brave.

MICRODOSES

🦞 Connecticut: A coalition of advocates are fighting a bill that would replace the criminal penalties for possessing psilocybin with a $150 fine. They argue that this type of legislation ironically increases “policing for profit.”

🌳 Oregon: A proposed ballot initiative would ask voters in Clackamas County whether MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin should be recriminalized. Essentially, it’s a vote to opt-out of Measures 110, which decriminalized drugs statewide, and 109, which established Oregon’s psilocybin services program.

🇺🇸 USA: At a Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing, Senator John Fetterman voiced his support for psilocybin mushrooms. He suggested they could be a source of economic prosperity, particularly in his home state of Pennsylvania, which he called “the mushroom capital of the world.”

BUSINESS

Compass Pathways keeps its psilocybin patents

Execs and shareholders at Compass Pathways, one of the biggest names in psychedelic drug development, are breathing a deep sigh of relief this week.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) upheld two of the company’s key patents covering a proprietary form of psilocybin named COMP360. If the decision had gone the other way, it could have spelled the end of Compass and the largest psilocybin clinical trial in the world.

Now I know what you’re thinking.

Wait wha— a patent? On psilocybin?! You can’t claim ownership over NATURE. These filthy capitalists…

And to be fair, you wouldn’t be the first person to shake their fist at the sky in outrage. A non-profit watchdog called Freedom to Operate has been contesting Compass’s patents for years. It’s been a whole saga, culminating in this week’s decision.

Ultimately, the USPTO sided with Compass. They ruled that the specific crystalline formation (or “polymorph”) of psilocybin molecules that Compass engineered is novel and protected intellectual property.

What do you think, Cyclists? Should Compass be allowed to patent COMP360 psilocybin? Reply and let us know! ✍️

MICRODOSES

🎙️ Testing, testing, 1-2-3: California-based Alkemist Labs has developed an analytical method to test and quantify the psychoactive compounds in plants and fungi.

🏒 Shoot your shot: Lucy Scientific Discovery made an “unsolicited” offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Pasithea Therapeutics, a biotech company developing treatments for central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

🎲 Going all in: Awakn Life Sciences is walking away from healthcare services to focus solely on their pipeline of therapeutics to treat addiction. They’re in talks with other providers to license out their healthcare IP, which will help fund their ongoing R&D.

😲 Mind-bending savings: A nonprofit in Bend, Oregon wants to provide free psilocybin therapy to low-income clients. That’s a pretty steep discount from the usual $3,000+ price tag for state-regulated sessions.

Trip Reports

Hot takes from around the web

Cyclists' Picks

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Psoiree Bundle

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Truth Be Told — What does the current psychedelic renaissance mean for the Black diaspora? Can psychedelics heal racial trauma? Season 5 of Tonya Mosley’s podcast explores these questions through interviews with Black researchers, creatives, and underground healers, all woven together with Serial-level production quality.

Dock Ellis Day Tee

Dock Ellis Day Tee — On June 12, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis threw the first and only no-hitter of his career. And he did it while tripping (base)balls on LSD. To commemorate one of the most important days in sports history, go ahead and rock this clean graphic tee.

That’s all for today. Before you head off, don’t forget to share, rate, and review Tricycle Day below. Catch ya next time, Cyclists! ✌️

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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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