Psilocybin For Substance Use: New U.S. Gov’t Funded Study On The Way, Plus 4 PubCo’s Studying It

Drug and substance use researcher Dr. Matthew W. Johnson had big news for the Twitterverse earlier this week: for the first time in more than 50 years, the U.S government has agreed to fund the study of the therapeutics of a psychedelic compound.

The professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University announced he’d received a U01 grant to study psilocybin for tobacco addiction from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA. The multi-site study will be conducted at Johns Hopkins, New York University (where it will be led by Dr. Michael Bogenshutz), and the University of Alabama Birmingham.

“To my knowledge it’s the first grant from the U.S. government in over a half century to directly study therapeutics of a classic psychedelic,” he wrote, suggesting it signalled a “new era in legitimacy of psychedelic science.” The last federally funded studies took places in the 1970s.

Johnson has researched the behavioral economics of psychedelics and other drugs for years and is not new to the subject of psilocybin for smoking cessation, a subject he studied with fellow Johns Hopkins researchers Roland Griffiths and Albert Garcia-Romeau back in 2014. That study found that participants who scored higher on a measure of psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences had greater success in smoking cessation. A long-term follow up study published in 2017 found that psilocybin held “considerable promise in promoting long-term smoking abstinence.” 

The professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences is also the president of the International Society for Research on Psychedelics. In the corporate world, he is the augmented psychotherapy training advisor and external lecturer at MIND Foundation, a Berlin-based psychedelics company, and a clinical advisor to NASDAQ-listed MindMed.

The study might be the first of the so-called ‘psychedelic renaissance’ to receive federal funding, but when it comes to the subject of addiction, it’s certainly not the only one investigating psychedelic compounds. Several public companies are also exploring their potential for smoking cessation, substance use disorder, and alcohol use disorder. Here are just a few.

Smoking Cessation: Mydecine (NEO: MYCO) (OTC: MYCOF) (FSE: 0NFA) 

Mydecine recently established a five-year research agreement with Johns Hopkins University to study the impact of psychedelics on smoking cessation. Johnson, mentioned above, will work with the team on a seamless phase 2/3 clinical trial evaluating Mydecine’s novel drug compound, MYCO-001, a naturally derived form of psilocybin that CEO Josh Bartch has described as “more complex” than traditional psilocybin.

Substance Use Disorder: Numinus (CSE: NUMI)

Announced last November, Numinus is working in collaboration with Syreon Corporation on a compassionate access trial of psilocybin for substance use disorders. In a TDR interview in June, CSO Stacey Wallin explained the trial’s unique structure: “Traditionally, [clinical trial research] can be double blinded. In our case, every person who is accepted into the study receives the treatment, so there’s no other arm or second way that you can participate. Every person receives compassionate access to the same medication and the same protocol.”

Alcohol Use Disorder: Psilera Bioscience

A smaller private player on the scene, Florida-based Psilera Bioscience has partnered with the University of South Florida to study the effects of its own psychedelic-inspired new chemical entities (NCEs), as well as the drug 4-AcO-DMT or psilacetin (synthetic psilocybin), and their impact on alcohol use disorder. These in vivo studies will be the first step in determining how the company’s NCEs might best be used in humans. 

Alcohol Use Disorder: Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (OTC: CLXPF)

In April, Cybin Inc. announced that it had selected alcohol use disorder as the target indication for its proprietary compound, CYB003. The company said at the time that it intends to file an investigational new drug (IND) filing for the compound by the end of 2021. 

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