By Jake Sherman
It’s an exciting time for psychedelics innovations. In the last decade, a seismic shift in attitude towards these therapies has begun, and we’re already seeing results. While changing public opinion can be seen in recent psychedelics legislation in Colorado, Oregon, and California, teams have quietly been working for years to improve the quality of psychedelics therapies.
This work has already yielded cutting edge advances in the drugs and treatments themselves, as well as how we measure their effectiveness. From synthetics to wearables, new software, and delivery methods, the ancient field of psychedelics is getting a 21st-century update.
As governments reopen their eyes to the benefits of these holistic and effective therapies, we expect the progress to continue. And it’s patients suffering from addiction, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, PTSD, and more who will reap the benefits. If the last ten years is any indicator, progress going forward will be extremely impressive. Here’s a look at five of the most important psychedelics innovations of the last decade.
MindMed’s non-hallucinogenic ibogaine derivative
Drug development company MindMed has got more than one iron in the fire as far as psychedelic therapies go. The company is developing LSD- and psilocybin-based solutions for cluster headaches, anxiety, and ADHD, among other things. But its most important project might be the non-hallucinogenic igobaine derivative 18-MC, which could help stem the ongoing opioid crisis.
Researchers discovered the powerful anti-addictive 18-MC in 1996, but it stagnated until recently. MindMed has fast-tracked it and expects Phase II clinical trials to begin any day now. Without the hallucinatory effects of ibogaine, 18-MC will be easier to market, prescribe, and take, potentially improving millions of lives.
MindMed’s “miracle” LSD blocker
MindMed added yet another major innovation to its repertoire this year with a compound that acts as an LSD “off switch.” MindMed is playing its cards close, revealing little about the makeup of the patent-pending compound it simply calls a “technology.” Whatever it is, if successful the “technology” will be a hands-down game changer. The company’s website says it could shorten and stop LSD trips, which would have an unbelievable impact on psychedelic-assisted therapies. Not only can the compound assuage patient fears of a “bad trip,” but it could also conveniently shorten sessions. Both possibilities would immeasurably add to people’s confidence in committing to LSD-based therapies.
Bexson Biomedical’s ketamine pain management wearable
Research biotech company Bexson Biomedical has partnered up with medical device manufacturer Stevanato Group on a ketamine delivery device patients can wear home from the hospital. The technology, based on an already existing insulin delivery device, comes with anti-tampering and anti-abuse safeguards. It even has Bluetooth connectivity to administer doses.
The current opioid crisis is mostly comprised of patients who’ve gotten addicted to morphine-based painkillers. But ketamine, which has lower abuse potential than morphine, could help. The FDA approved the drug in 1970 as a fast-acting anesthetic. And it’s only at higher doses that ketamine acts as a hallucinogenic. This new wearable could provide a safe, effective non-opioid solution for pain relief.
Compass Pathways’ synthetic psilocybin alternative
COMP360, the now-patented psilocybin formulation by Compass Pathways, is proving extremely effective at fighting drug-resistant depression. Compass CEO George Goldsmith, though, is adamant that it shouldn’t be seen as simply a medication. The patented formula is administered at a relatively high dose, and is part of a holistic therapy session. This includes supervision by trained clinicians, wearing eye visors, and listening to a curated soundtrack throughout the 6-8 hour trip (if you were wondering how long do shrooms last). It also includes pre- and post-experience talk sessions.
Meanwhile, some people fear the patent threatens to effectively create a “magic mushroom monopoly.” (Which is interesting because growing magic mushrooms at home is legal.) While most agree that the patent’s impact on the wider industry would be slim, there could be unforeseen effects. There’s precedent for this in the tertiary effects of the FDA’s approval of CDB oil on the edibles industry.
Tovana makes benefits of psychedelic therapies quantifiable
Full disclosure, Tovana is a division of PsyTech, which in no way lessens the impact the company is having on the psychedelics space. Tovana is a digital platform that manages safe, personalized, protocol-driven, and data-supported psychedelic-assisted therapy. In a word, it helps patients and practitioners measure how the therapy is progressing in real time, and fine-tune it.
Tovana does this by taking a multi-pronged approach. Both therapist and patient have their own software – the therapist has a dashboard, and the patient an app. In addition, the patient has a wearable that measures biometric data and turns it into practical, usable information. Tovana’s ability to optimize psychedelic therapies puts it squarely on the map of this decade’s important psychedelics innovations.