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Psychedelic Bulletin: Psychedelics Companies Embrace Tech; MindMed to Study LSD Microdosing; UFC Eyes Psychedelics

In our 2020 Year in Review, we predicted that technology and digital therapeutics would play an increasingly important role in the work of psychedelics companies: from augmenting drug discovery by employing AI, right through to empowering end-users of psychedelic therapies and medicines by providing personalised treatment regimes and actionable insights through the use of wearables.

This week has seen a clear focus on such adjunct technologies and devices…

Cybin led the news on this front by announcing their partnership with LA-based Kernel, which produces a non-invasive neuroimaging device dubbed Flow. Cybin hopes to receive the devices in Q2, after which it plans to use Flow data from sponsored studies to inform their future work.

In a similar vein (i.e., through the use of ‘wearables’ of sorts), MindMed confirmed that their recently formed Albert digital therapeutics division will employ digital tracking devices and software to better understand LSD’s effects on a variety of clinical markers. The data will be collected as part of a randomised, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effects of microdosing LSD, announced earlier this week.

Mind Cure, meanwhile, is seeking to gather real-world data for its iSTRYM (pronounced ‘eye stream’) digital therapeutic tool. The tool employs AI to collate users’ inputs and generate actionable insights, which Mind Cure hopes to use to augment clinicians’ diagnoses and treatment plans. This week, the company announced its intent to make a strategic investment in ATMA Journey Centers, a Canadian psychedelic therapy provider. This should allow Mind Cure to collect organic data to improve iSTRYM’s model.

Finally, Entheon has made an investment in an adjunct technology via its acquisition of HaluGen, which is developing a pre-screening test that it claims identifies genetic markers that can help predict an individual’s reaction to hallucinogens. If effective, HaluGen’s test could be a useful tool in deciding which (or, whether) psychedelic therapies are appropriate for patients on an individual basis.

These four announcements, while diverse in nature, all speak to the employment of adjunct technologies to augment psychedelic science and the ultimate delivery of psychedelic-based medicines and therapies. Entheon and Mind Cure’s announcements, in particular, relate more to the personalisation of care delivery, while Cybin’s partnership with Kernel appears set to focus on the development of new molecules and associated clinical programs.

Beyond this trend, the week saw a steady flow of company news and mainstream media pieces on psychedelics, which have become something of a benchmark as we enter the new year. Notably, UFC President Dana White had one of his team reach out to Johns Hopkins to discuss the potential for psychedelics to be used in the treatment of mental health illnesses and traumatic brain injury. Also, Somerville, MA, became the latest U.S. city to decriminalise psychedelics in a unanimous (9-0) vote.

Here’s your weekly round-up…

Psychedelic Sector News

MindMed Adds Robert Barrow as Chief Development Officer; Announces LSD Microdosing Study

Robert Barrow is joining MindMed as Chief Development Officer. Barrow previously served as Director of Drug Development & Discovery at the Usona Institute.

During his time at Usona, Barrow was responsible for the launch of their Phase II clinical program for psilocybin in the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), for which the nonprofit received a Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the FDA.

Earlier in the week, MindMed announced a randomised, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effects of microdosing LSD on: cognitive performance, sleep quality, mood, neuroplasticity, emotion regulation, quality of life, and immune system response.

The study will be conducted in collaboration with Maastricht University’s Dr. Kim Kuypers, and will be integrated into MindMed’s newly-formed Albert digital therapeutics division. Specifically, digital tracking devices and software will be utilised to better understand LSD’s effects on various clinical markers; as aforementioned.

Additionally, the Company’s Microdosing Division is undertaking a Phase 2a clinical trial evaluating microdoses of LSD for ADHD.

Cybin Partners with Kernel to Harness Neuroimaging Tech

Cybin is partnering with LA-based Kernel, which has a focus on quantifying the human mind, such as via non-invasive neuroimaging systems. Their Flow device is one such product. Worn on the head, the device is able (via near-infrared spectroscopy) to determine how oxygenated the wearer’s blood is at any given time. Such measurements can be used as proxies of neural activity during a psychedelic experience, for example.

Kernel has raised $104m to date, including investment from prominent VC firms General Catalyst and Khosla Ventures. The company’s founder, Bryan Johnson, formerly founded and led Braintree Venmo (now a household name in the U.S.), which was acquired by eBay for $800m in 2013.

Tryp Therapeutics Adds to Board of Directors

Tryp Therapeutics has appointed Gregory M. McKee to its board of directors. Commenting on the appointment, Tryp’s Executive Chairman William Garner, M.D. said “Greg’s deep understanding of the biotechnology industry and capital markets is invaluable as we elevate Tryp to the next stage in its development.”

Champignon Annonces New CFO, General Counsel

As part of a broader management shake-up, Champignon has appointed a new CFO and General Counsel. In December, the company appointed an interim CFO, Chris Hobbs, who worked on the company’s response to the British Columbia Securities Commission’s continuous disclosure review and cease trade order, still in effect. Hobbs will now act as special advisor to Champignon’s new CFO, Stephen R. Brooks, advising him with regard to the ongoing review.

Mind Cure to Acquire Ownership Interest in ATMA, Psychedelic Treatment Centre

Mind Cure looks set to make a strategic investment in ATMA Journey Centers, which provided access to psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for an Alberta resident under a Section 56 exemption announced by SYNTAC Institute last week. The proposed investment would see ATMA use Mind Cure’s psychedelic drug protocols and iSTRYM proprietary digital therapeutics platform to optimize treatment. In turn, ATMA would provide vital data for the development of iSTRYM‘s AI (as mentioned earlier).

CBDV Begins Researching Psilocybin via Sec 56 Exemption

Complex Biotech Discovery Ventures (CBDV), based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, has begun researching psilocybin via a Section 56 exemption from Health Canada. In December 2020, Havn Life signed a contract with CBDV to analyse various psilocybin extraction methods.

Entheon Acquires HaluGen

Entheon Biomedical has acquired HaluGen, a biotech company developing a pre-screening test which it claims identifies genetic markers that can help predict an individual’s reaction to hallucinogens. In consideration of the transaction, Entheon issued 5m shares to HaluGen shareholders, worth just under $4.5 million at close on Jan 14th.

Financings and IPOs

It’s been a quieter week in terms of financings with just a couple of announcements to report…

Mydecine Announces $10m Bought Deal

Canaccord Genuity has agreed to purchase 20m units of the company, at $0.50 per unit.

PharmaTher Trades on OTCQB

PharmaTher (a subsidiary of Newscope Capital Corp.) commenced trading on the OTCQB Venture Market on Wednesday, January 13th. 

Weekend Reading

New Resource: Psychedelics Glossary

This week we launched our latest public education resource: a glossary of terms you may come across in the psychedelic space, including relevant regulatory and clinical trial terminology.

Suggestions are welcome and can be submitted via the form at the top of the page.

Somerville, MA, Becomes Latest City to Decriminalise Psychedelics

DoubleBlind reported that the Somerville City Council unanimously (9-0) voted to decriminalise the possession of entheogenic plants this week. Somerville, with a population just north of 80,000, joins other U.S. cities such as Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Ann Arbor; all of which have voted for similar measures.

UFC Reaches out to Johns Hopkins Regarding Psychedelics for Traumatic Brain Injury

A number of outlets picked up on this story, in which UFC President Dana White instructed Jeff Novitzky, Senior VP of Health and Performance, to look into psychedelics for traumatic brain injury. Talking to ESPN, Novitzky said: “Dana said, ‘Hey, find out what this is about, […] see if it does help with some traumatic brain injury, addiction, mental-health problems. We want to be on board and we want to be first.”

It appears that HBO’s Real Sports coverage of psychedelics late last year spurred interest among the upper echelons of UFC.

Stay Informed in 2021

We can only expect the rate of change and development in the psychedelic space to continue accelerating in 2021. Stay informed via our various platforms and channels…

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