Earlier this week, The Dales Report sat down with Dr. Daniel Clauw, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan and a member of Tryp Therapeutics (CNSX: TRYP) (OTCMKTS: TRYPF) scientific advisory board, to discuss the company’s latest trial work on the use of psilocybin for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Clauw, the director of the Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan Medical School, is a world-leading expert in the disease and other nociplastic pain indications (pain that is derived from a dysfunction in the central nervous system).
Why Fibromyalgia and Psilocybin?
In July, Tryp Therapeutics announced it would conduct a phase 2a clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of TRYP-8802, the company’s proprietary oral formulation of synthetic psilocybin and psychotherapy for the treatment of fibromyalgia. As much as 2 to 8 percent of the population is thought to be affected by fibromyalgia, which is characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, memory problems, and trouble sleeping.
In his discussion with TDR, Clauw said that there’s been so much research in fibromyalgia and related conditions that a few years ago, the international group of pain researchers formally said that there is reason to believe there is a third mechanism of pain in which pain comes from the central nervous system.
“It was a really big deal,” said Clauw. “Based on all the functional neuroimaging studies and other types of studies that groups like ours have done over the last two or three decades, [these] have convinced people that the brain and the central nervous system is capable of causing pain in and of itself.”
Fibromyalgia, Clauw said, is the “poster child” for nociplastic pain, but others include headache and phantom limb pain. He said this type of pain might be the most common among humans.
Clauw has been involved in studies that led to the approval of treatment for fibromyalgia and says that current treatment offerings are “very inadequate,” only working in one out of every three individuals. The problem, he said, is bigger than just fibromyalgia: there is a huge unmet need when it comes to the treatment of chronic pain.
The Future of Chronic Pain Treatment
Dr. Clauw says that in five years’ time, he hopes to see a therapeutic option for individuals with fibromyalgia and chronic pain conditions so that they have a choice beyond what’s offered to them in classic drugs. He also noted that the evidence base has been growing for other non-pharmacologic therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, mindfulness, and Tai Chi, therapies that “we used to be really dismissive of in Western medicine.”
In an ideal situation, chronic pain patients will have access to a number of different therapeutic options and not just opioids, he said.
So where does psilocybin come in? Clauw said the drug’s ability to restore networks in the brain could have an impact on patients suffering from chronic pain: “In chronic pain, there’s connectivity between brain regions that normally don’t talk to each other. And if we could get these brain regions in some way to stop talking to each other, that might be therapeutically advantageous.”
The Role of Stigma
When asked about the difference between early psychedelic science and the research being conducted today, Clauw likened the situation to that of cannabis: “I do a give a lot of talks on cannabinoids now, and I always show the Reefer Madness video… to show people what we used to think about cannabis and how it was this evil weed from hell,” he said. Like cannabis, there was a lot of hysteria around psychedelics before they were studied more closely.
“[Psychedelics] have a reputation as ‘hippie drugs’… but none of that was really scientifically grounded.”
Clauw also discussed the likelihood of Big Pharma stepping into the psychedelic arena. Watch the interview above to hear what he had to say.