Several psychedelics companies are pursuing drug development research for new treatments for substance use disorder, including Vancouver-based Entheon Biomedical (CNSX: ENBI) (OTCMKTS: ENTBF) (FSE: 1XU1), which is looking specifically at N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT.
Last week, The Dales Report sat down with CEO Timothy Ko and Chief Science Officer and Director of Operations Dr. Andrew Hegle to learn more about what brought the two executives to the psychedelic space, details on Entheon’s upcoming study, and how DMT could potentially be used as a treatment for substance use disorder.
Ko, who has a broad history as an entrepreneur, was brought to psychedelics for a deeply personal reason, having lost his brother to a fentanyl overdose in 2019. He’s also used them himself to overcome trauma.
“Some of the same triggers and stressors that my brother faced, I also faced, and I knew anecdotally that psychedelics had the ability to transform my life and allow me to live a free and unencumbered life,” said Ko.
“I’ve made it my mission to seek out those that know more than me to validate whether psychedelics could be useful for treating those with addiction. And pretty quickly, we’ve heard a resounding ‘yes’.”
Dr. Hegle, who serves as an adjunct professor of pharmacology at UBC, comes from a background in molecular biology and neuroscience, and like Ko, has also lost people in his life to substance use disorder.
Ko explained that the reason that psychedelics more broadly, and DMT specifically, are being researched as a potential treatment for substance use disorder has to do with their “ability to generate hugely profound experiences and insights”—outcomes that are sought after through existing treatment paradigms including 12-step recovery and psychotherapy.
“There’s always this push towards a better understanding of motivating factors, impulses, motivations, and stressors,” he said. “Where we think DMT is hugely beneficial is that, especially for those that are suffering from substance use disorder, they may have some very difficult trauma issues that are underpinning that.”
If a person encounters an extended challenging period during their experience while using psilocybin, LSD, or ayahuasca, there isn’t a mechanism to bring the trip to an end—but with intravenous DMT, there is an opportunity to provide greater control, said Ko.
“With DMT, just by virtue of its unique pharmacokinetics, you do have that ability to modulate, titrate, and end the experience if medically necessary, and we think that that’s a particularly useful feature that for actual in clinic use.”
Hegle provided further details on the drugs pharmacokinetics: “DMT is really unique in the fact that it has something like a half-an-hour metabolism, so it comes in and goes out very fast.
“It’s very powerful, but it provides a really intense but short experience. By administering it in the clinic, we can give it to you for as long as needed,” he said. “Some patients may find that an hour is sufficient, or maybe two hours, for the psychotherapist who’s there to help them really make the most of that powerful experience.”
Another clear benefit of the shorter treatment period is cost savings: drug-assisted psychotherapy involving psilocybin or MDMA can last four to six hours.
“Because of that short session length, people might not even need to take the whole day off. They could come in for a few hours and be released as an outpatient,” added Hegle, noting that intravenous administration allows for real-time adjustments to dosing.
Watch the rest of the interview above to learn more from Hegle and Ko about how they imagine DMT being used in a clinical setting, and about Entheon’s clinical trial, which is about to kick off at the Centre for Human Drug Research in Leiden, Netherlands.