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Interview with Timothy Ko, CEO, Entheon

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Having just closed a successful raise, we spoke to Timothy Ko about Entheon’s plans for the near future, and the challenges his team may face.

PA: What’s your personal story on how you decided to become involved in this sector?

TK: I’ve been an avid psychonaut since the age of about 14. About 6 years ago, I used DMT to help me work through some complex trauma issues I was doing a variety of therapies to treat. In spite of the various treatments I was undergoing, 2x per week visits to a therapist, I was unable to reconcile certain elements of my past, and actually found myself in an extended trauma response that caused me to be in constant fight or flight, as well as depressed. DMT allowed me to access the walled off portions of my narrative and emotional composition, and helped me immensely.

Sadly, I lost my brother to substance use disorder in March of last year. Over the course of 2 decades and more acutely in the 2 years that preceded his death, virtually all medical interventions were thrown his way to no avail. Suboxone, methadone, antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, as well as every therapeutic modality, 12 step, etc.. None of it was able to access and address the core traumas that underpinned his addiction, but rather managed and treated symptoms, often adding layers of obscurity over the core issues. Psychedelics have a way of directly addressing such issues so following his death I made it my mission to assemble a team capable of finding something to help the millions of similarly affected people around the world.

PA: What are Entheon’s goals for 2020?

TK: Entheon is working on formalizing already established scientific relationships, and making clear declarations of its clinical trials approach. We will be doing human study next year, so we are working through the final stages of the related processes. We also see the need for adequate capital so we are working through the terms of such arrangements as to sufficiently fund the pre-clinical, and clinical work of the next few years. Our recent raise was successful and adequately funds us to carry out the next stage of operations.

PA: What are your primary concerns for the next 2 years, and how do you plan to outmanoeuvre or address them?

TK: Our concerns are the matter of fact necessity of taking concept to reality, and as such we are taking the necessary steps of working with our drug material provider for GMP DMT, as well as tweaking our clinical trial design with our CRO. Due to the unique IP realities of the space, we are working with a massively experienced group to develop a robust suite of patents to ensure that specific areas of our design are protected.

PA: You have an impressive team of scientific advisors, it’s almost a flashcard of the most revered names in the space. However, as advisors their time is not exclusive to Entheon, and their level of involvement is somewhat opaque. Could you speak to that?

TK: We are blessed to have access to the most exceptional minds within the psychedelic space, and as such we wanted to meaningfully engage them in the process of building our product from the ground up. That said, it would be a shame to attempt to bind such wisdom and expertise to exclusivity, as they have so much insight to provide to others that are trying to develop solutions. They have helped us with regard to the literature, which our very capable core operations team was able to distill into the scaffold of a protocol. Via a lot of back and forth, and many hours of calls, we tweaked and iterated, finally arriving at a protocol we will be taking into clinic. We can’t thank them enough for sharing their time, passion, and expertise with us.

PA: You are planning to commence pre-clinical trials with DMT, which is very exciting. What made Entheon decide to prioritise DMT over other psychedelics in the treatment of addiction? Is there a specific piece of research, or a study, that suggests promise over other substances?

TK: Aside from the very broad anecdotal reports of DMT’s usefulness in both ayahuasca and single molecule format in treating mental health conditions ranging from addiction issues, depression, and more generalized “disorders of despair,” there is a strong understanding of its safety in clinical human use, as well as a strong understanding of its entropic brain effect, which may prove pivotal in treating those conditions often governed by rigidity of belief. The mechanism and effect of DMT is similar to the other classic psychedelics, but the intensity and duration of it are more potent and shorter acting. This set of qualities lends a host of benefits to precision dose and experience control which we seek to tailor to patient needs.

PA: What’s lacking in the public discourse surrounding psychedelics?

TK: I am overjoyed by the recent highlighting of psychedelics’ potential for good. And while much of the reporting and excitement is rooted in strong science or culturally validated assumption, I believe that we need to be cautious of overpromising what psychedelics can do, or the potential dangers, though limited, they pose to certain people with underlying mental health issues. 

PA: How will the psychedelic sector’s impact on people’s lives differ to that of the cannabis industry?

TK: Cannabis is wonderful, and I know many people’s lives who are positively impacted by their use of it in both a recreational and therapeutic context.

That said, psychedelics, in my estimation, are more explicitly intended for the purposes of healing. I believe the testimonial value of people who utilize psychedelics in the appropriate therapeutic context will be incredible, and transformational.

PA: What would you say to those looking to invest in this nascent space?

TK: I would suggest that people be discerning, and view things through the lens of plausibility, both in a legal and regulatory context, as well as expected effect of the product. Is the path to market plausible in light of the regulatory landscape that exists now/is developing? And is the intended effect of the product in development premised on strong scientific data and assumption?

PA: How has, and/or will, COVID-19 affected your operations?

TK: Covid has not impeded our development, and though some of our partners have seen shutdowns, the timelines we have established with them account for the most recent assessments of resuming operations as dictated by the local health authorities in their jurisdictions. Covid-19 has provided us with lessons that have forced adaptability and nimbleness, but it has also highlighted the need for research such as ours as there have been reported spikes in people self-medicating to deal with the existential uncertainty of lockdowns, employment fears, and the degradation of social supports. 

PA: To end on a more positive note: what are you most excited about for Entheon’s future?

TK: We are very confident in what we’re developing and so we are eager to validate our assumptions in a clinical setting. The number of people dying and suffering from substance use disorder is immense and unfathomable. When you connect those numbers with the immensity of pain and chaos of each individual life, those numbers carry a different gravity. If we can provide a tool to affect thousands of lives positively, then our work will have been worth it and we are very excited by that prospect.


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