Published at Microdose.com.
By Gaurav Dubey
2020 has indeed brought forth unforeseen challenges into the world due to the global coronavirus pandemic. However, this year has also seen monumental victories for psychedelic medicine–a radical new hope for a brighter future. The current state of mental healthcare, which has been starkly exposed due to the pandemic, is seriously insufficient.There is a significant need for new and better mental health treatments now more than ever before.
Fortunately, between the groundbreaking clinical research into psychedelic medicine at leading universities and institutions and the incredible amount of capital flowing into the space, one thing is clear: psychedelics are making a massive comeback. Here are some of the major highlights and victories witnessed by the psychedelic renaissance in this otherwise challenging year.
Robust clinical research has been the backbone of the modern psychedelic renaissance, and 2020 certainly had its share of exciting developments here. Leading institutions such as Johns Hopkins, NYU and the Imperial College of London have conducted historic trials demonstrating the efficacy of drugs like psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, for end-of-life anxiety and severe treatment resistant depression.
Fascinating research by renowned scientists like Robin Carhart Harris utilizes fMRI technology to uncover the mysterious mechanisms in the brain that characterize the beneficial effects of psilocybin therapy. The below diagram by Carhart-Harris shows increased brain connectivity and communication while under the influence of magic mushrooms and has become a hallmark of psychedelic science in 2020.
Communication between brain networks in people given psilocybin (right) or a non-psychedelic compound (left).
The dynamic group at Mydecine, which includes Carhart-Harris and Dr. Rakesh Jetly, are also spearheading trials investigating psilocybin for PTSD in veterans. Their recent speaker series featured their all-star science team and explored many of these important topics.
Such trials have been so profound that earlier this year, Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu, in response to Therapsil’s advocacy efforts, approved the first four Canadian’s for psilocybin assisted psychotherapy. This has since been expanded to include non-terminally ill Canadian patients–-a genuine testament of Hajdu’s dedication to progressive drug policy. Canada isn’t the only one embracing psychedelics, however.
The state of Oregon recently made history by legalizing psilocybin assisted psychotherapy and decriminalizing small amounts of all drugs. This is a huge move by Oregon that sets a strong precedent for other states in the US who also wish to embrace and reintegrate psychedelics into society.
The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, also known as MAPS, have spearheaded trials investigating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD with remarkable success. After raising $30 million in non-profit donations for these trials, they are now currently in phase 3 trials and have paired with the team at Numinus to help bring the treatment to market. Their partnership with Numinus aims to expand upon the phase 3 trials going on in the US by conducting trials in Canada if they gain approval. MDMA has now received “breakthrough therapy” status by the FDA, allowing its trials to be expedited. In a time where traditional mental health treatments are failing, this is hugely significant. As this important data continues to pour out of the world’s top research institutions, drug policy is expected to continue to align with science and data.
While the lockdown may have kept us indoors, that didn’t stop the psychedelic community from virtually connecting and sharing big ideas. In fact, Microdose, in conjunction with The Conscious Fund, hosted the world’s largest virtual psychedelic conference in April, shortly after lockdowns began. The Microdose team carried this momentum into future events, including their monthly Psychedelic Capital conference series and their insightful molecular masterclasses, such as The Ketamine Conference and The Mushroom Conference.
By convening the most influential voices in the field of psychedelic medicine, Microdose helps foster communication and creativity in this emerging space. Event sponsors included major players in the space, including MagicMed Industries, Psygen, The Wake Network and many more.
Despite global lockdowns preventing live conferences, the psychedelic community took the internet by storm to share ideas and spark important conversations. Indeed, the public is becoming increasingly interested in the promise of these powerful medicines. Additionally, investor interest is at an all time high, with major financings and deals in the sector.
Money tends to follow efficacy in biotech and pharmaceutical investing, and psychedelics have certainly exhibited incredible efficacy. Indeed, 2020 has witnessed several companies IPO, crazy stock surges and some major financings. In fact, in just the last week, psychedelic company MindMed upsized to an $80 million bought deal, MagicMed Industries closed an upsized $8.1 million dollar deal, and Tryp Therapeutics has launched their IPO and are now trading on the Canadian Stock Exchange (CSE: TRYP).
Billionaire Peter Thiel-backed psychedelic pioneers, Compass Pathways (NASDAQ: CMPS), were the first psychedelic company to debut on the NASDAQ this year. They are certainly leaders in the space and have helped establish a powerful precedent for psychedelic medicine. Additionally, their immense commitment to research is a powerful indicator of their teams success.
All signs certainly point towards a bright and lucrative future for psychedelic medicine and the companies leading the charge.
2020 has seen an enormous amount of headlines, clinical breakthroughs, and financial successes within the psychedelic medicine field. Likewise, this year has seen a dramatic increase in event attendees, investor capital, and general indicators of mainstream curiosity. That being said, we ought to enter the new year in gratitude for those who positioned us to have these conversations. Thank you to Imperial College London, John Hopkins, NYU, Drug Science, and all the other organizations who fought this decade-plus uphill battle for us. Thank you Matthew W. Johnson, Rolland R. Griffiths, David Mokler, Robin Carhart Harris, and all the researchers dedicating their lives to understanding the gnosis of these compounds. Let’s end this year and begin the new one with an emphasis on the working class, corporate social responsibility, and evidence-based exploration of psychoactive drugs.