With mental health deteriorating rapidly in the age of COVID lockdowns and social distancing, rising addictive disorders are the new normal, according to a published study. Unfortunately, many conventional treatment options lack efficacy, and few novel treatment options are on the imminent horizon. Enter Awakn Life Sciences Corp. (NEO: AWKN) (OTCMKTS: AWKNF), which is re-imaging the way Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is being treated in the clinic. We invited CEO Anthony Tennyson to the program to explain what makes Awakn’s model so compelling in a sector where most are targeting depressive disorder indications.
Awakn Life Sciences is a biotechnology company with clinical operations, delivering psychedelic therapeutics—both with drugs combined with assisted therapy—to better treat addiction. The company effectively has two distinct divisions: a traditional drug development operation, and a growing clinical network hub across Europe to treat addiction and mental health disorders. The company’s main therapeutic focus is on addiction disorders, with the goal of providing psychedelic assisted therapy to restore balance in the brain. It is envisioned that this dual attack plan can supplant some of the largely-ineffective mono treatment options offered to patients today.
On the drug development side, Awakn Life Sciences is one of the only junior psychedelic companies (by market cap) with two Phase 2 studies in its pipeline.
Awakn has received ethical committee approval and has initiated recruitment for the first-ever study investigating ketamine in gambling addiction. The study, lead by Celia Morgan, Ph.D., Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter, U.K, will aim to tackle both the urge to gamble and the “superstitious thinking” that accompanies it. The study will explore whether ketamine administration can modify the reward memories associated with gambling.
In the U.S. alone it is estimated that there are 10 million gambling addicts, which equates to roughly 2.5% of the population. With the meteoric rise in legalized sports betting all over the continent, it is likely addiction per capita metrics will continue to rise in the future.
Awakn has also recently acquired the exclusive rights to the data from the Phase 2a Bristol Imperial MDMA in Alcoholism Study from Imperial College London—considered one of the world’s leading psychedelics research centers. The results of the data, published in February 2021, indicated that MDMA could be more effective at treating Alcohol Use Disorder, with a 20% relapse rate within the first nine months, compared to 75% relapse rate with traditional treatments. The acquisition will allow Awakn to accelerate a planned Phase 2b randomized controlled trial in the U.K.
Whether it’s gambling addiction, substance or behavioral disorders, the potential for NextGen therapies to gain traction in the marketplace is enormous. By developing their own drug development pipeline and clinic network, Awakn hopes to own the entire addiction therapeutic lifecycle—and the benefits that go along with it.
Behavioral addictions affect another significant minority of people with gambling disorder, for example, affecting about 6% of the global population. So about 300 to 400 million people. These are chronic diseases. So what we’re doing is we’re working with ketamine and MDMA in the near term, to develop the therapies part of that therapies package or therapeutics package, I should say. And we are also developing our own drugs, to better treat addiction using psychedelic drugs than any other compounds that are currently available, and will bring those therapies and those drugs together into a single therapeutics package in due course.
Click on the embedded link for more of our newest interview with Awakn Life Sciences CEO Anthony Tennyson, in his own words