Published at Microdose
The world undoubtedly faced unforeseen challenges last year in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, we as a society also witnessed psychedelic medicine make unprecedented progress in 2020. From Mydecine’s first psilocybin extraction to Compass Pathways debuting on the NASDAQ, 2020 had no shortage of exciting developments on the psychedelic medicine front. Together, this massive progress has set the stage for the psychedelic renaissance with much more to come in 2021. Here is a list of all the historic firsts that psychedelic medicine had in 2020.
The innovative team at Mydecine completed the first legal psilocybin extraction in 2020. They were also the first to export these mushrooms internationally. From the press release:
“[Myedecine has] completed its first commercial harvest of 20 kilograms of psilocybin mushrooms at its research and cultivation facility in Jamaica. The Company is now preparing to export the harvest to its Canadian cGMP Facility which has a Health Canada schedule 1 Dealer’s License attached to it, allowing for legal import.”
This historic milestone sets an extraordinary precedent for psilocybin science and psychedelic medicine as a whole.
The psychedelic renaissance is bringing forth an exciting new age of digital therapeutics and telehealth platforms. At the forefront of this movement is Mindleap Health, a subsidiary of the Myedicine group, that launched the world’s first telehealth platform for psychedelic integration.
From the press release:
“Mindleap was founded with the goal of enhancing the wellbeing of millions of people that struggle with mental health problems. By combining traditional telemedicine with mood and behavior analytics, the Mindleap platform offers a powerful set of tools for managing mental healthcare.”
The robust platform allows users to browse vetted and experienced specialists and easily schedule appointments and purchase mental health services.
There are benefits for the healthcare providers too. From the release:
“Specialists on Mindleap benefit from the platform’s full freedom to manage their virtual practice on their terms; setting their own prices and choosing the hours they work each week (with no minimums or maximums).”
As the psychedelic renaissance continues to progress, so will the diverse and robust arena of digital therapeutics. Such progress stands to benefit the entire field of healthcare, a promising thing to look forward to.
Being the first psychedelic company to debut on the NASDAQ is a really big deal, and that’s exactly what the Peter Thiel-backed dynamo, Compass Pathways (ticker: CMPS), managed to do. The team at Compass listed a $100 million dollar IPO for psilocybin-based therapy. With millions of people suffering from depression across the globe, the team at Compass is poised to make a massive impact on mental health treatment with psilocybin therapy. Their debut on the NASDAQ sets a major precedent for psychedelic stocks and the emerging renaissance overall.
The progressive team at Field Trip Health launched the first psychedelics app, Trip, that “allows people from anywhere in the world to access tools that support self-exploration and consciousness expansion through meditation, breathwork and more.” In addition to expanding their digital offerings, the progressive team at Field Trip also opened psychedelic-enhanced therapy centers in Canada and the United States. Their most recent center, which currently offers ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, opened up in Chicago, Illinois.
Originally based out of Denver, Mydecine (CSE: MYCO) launched the first ever psilocybin-based clinical trials for treatment of war veteran PTSD. Indeed, after buying NeuroPharm Inc. in the summer of 2020, Mydecine went ahead to proceed with these clinical trials. The clinical trials also hoped to treat PTSD among EMS and first responders, and this noble effort reached Phase 2A of the clinical process. Those who have been in space for quite some time will recall that PTSD is usually coupled with subsequent depression and/or substance use disorder – which are also indications which psilocybin may treat effectively.
You read correctly – Mind Medicine (NEO: MMED), the leading psychedelic pharmaceutical company championed by Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, announced the first ever clinical trial exploring the therapeutic benefits of combining MDMA and LSD. This combination, once dubbed as “candy flipping” in the underground psychedelic scene, is now being explored with clinical prowess for the first time. In the original announcement of this trial, MindMed explained that MDMA may negate the negative effects of LSD (or other classical psychedelics, for that matter). This move is quite genius considering that some of the unpleasant side effects of LSD (e.g., a considerably strange “come up,” subsequent panic, etc.) would be easily replaced by the well-studied euphoria induced by MDMA.
The psychedelic pioneers at Numinus, one of the best known players in the space, teamed up with with MAPS last year and announced a collaboration agreement regarding an open-label trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. The dynamic psychedelic company also completed their first legal psilocybin harvest in October of 2020–another huge first for the team and the psychedelic renaissance overall.
You can learn more about the exciting developments from the Numinus team by checking out this PsyCap recap from their Psychedelic Capital presentation here.
Though the news of psychedelic therapy advances is exhilarating and fun to watch, the actual psychedelic therapy sessions are quite challenging. Part of what makes psychedelics such a powerful adjunct to psychotherapy is their ability to bring difficult (but necessary for healing) conversations to the forefront of one’s psyche. Likewise, some can be especially off-put by induced hallucinatory effects. Luckily, the first ever psychedelic peer support hotline will be available to the public in 2021. Launched by Fireside Project, a San Francisco-based non profit, the hotline is meant to walk folks through these challenging and sometimes outright scary psychedelic experiences. This is a huge step up for the harm reduction movement, as psychedelic experiences are most powerful when done safely. The hotline (1-833-2FIRESIDE) is slated to begin April 14, 2021, and run 24/7. What a fantastic contribution to the modern drug user’s arsenal of safe protocols.
One of the larger firsts this previous year was one felt on an international level – the world’s first regulatory-approved patient clinical trial using N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Executed by UK neuropharmaceutical company Small Pharma, this announcement debuted Dec. 10, 2020. Like most companies in this space, their focus on psychedelics is in pursuit of alleviating clinical mental health symptoms. DMT has considerably shorter (and more controllable) duration than other psychedelics, which brings about unique therapeutic applications. This is partially why Canadian biotech company Entheon Biomedical is pursuing DMT in treatment of substance use disorder.
After a fantastic pre-IPO round for MindMed, featuring the aforementioned Kevin O’Leary and also Bruce Linton (prolific investor and former CEO of Canopy Growth), the company became the first psychedelic organization to go public. Subsequently, MindMed started trading on the NEO exchange under the ticker symbol MMED. The company’s historic pre-IPO round raised a whopping $24 million (of course, we’d later see them reap in significantly more capital). Furthermore, upon being listed on the NEO exchange, MindMed sold over 14 million shares. It is precisely this kind of news that draws in more investors towards emerging psychedelic companies period.
Amid a horrific heightening of the COVID-19 pandemic, NY-based mental health company MindBloom offered remote-enabled ketamine therapy to struggling homebound individuals. This is an especially important service for two reasons: first, the mental health crisis increased amongst U.S. citizens once social distancing (e.g., stay at home orders, consequential closing of workplaces) was implemented. Folks were stuck at home, and because of this, existing mental health symptoms were exacerbated which were otherwise regulated by a change of scenery and the comfort of in-person relationships. MindBloom’s ketamine therapy sessions helped such individuals. Second, existing in person mental health care facilities were no longer ethically able to have patients come in. Some of this nation’s most depressed members deeply depended on the care of a mental health professional, and in the face of losing that care, MindBloom provided a safe virtual alternative.
Time and time again, the psychedelic community may subconsciously take the lesser discussed roles of psychedelic medicine for granted. Indeed, headlines consistently remind us of mover-shaker CEOs and investors in the space, but likewise, the industry runs thanks to the therapists, project managers, media associates and other employees of psychedelic medicine. The Conscious Fund (the leading global early-stage venture fund for psychedelics) helped many fulfill these roles in the summer of 2020, when they launched the world’s first psychedelic industry job board. The premise and usefulness of this job board is summarized perfectly in their initial announcement of the job board:
“Even with a global downturn, the psychedelic medicine industry is booming and creating an entirely new range of exciting opportunities and career paths across roles in science, manufacturing, finance, operations, and professional services. However, despite this exciting growth, we noticed there was an information gap between professionals looking to enter the space and companies looking to access global talent. We decided to fix that.”
Cleverly announced on April 16, the day Albert Hoffman first accidentally tripped on LSD, The Daily Psychedelic Video announced their launch of the world’s first psychedelic video museum. For those who missed it, Daily Psychedelic Video (DPV) has spent the last decade making and posting fantastic psychedelic visuals for the public to enjoy. They doubled down on this and created a psychedelic video museum, featuring 700 DPV videos and 45 different themed exhibits (e.g., sixties psychedelia, psychedelic activism, psychedelic hip hop, etc.). Readers are encouraged to check out the DPV museum ASAP, for it truly represents our juncture in time – the intersection of technology and psychedelia.
Despite the growing interest and positive testimonies regarding microdosing worldwide, the law still makes it quite difficult to study microdosing’s efficacy. But in 2020, the University of Aukland launched the world’s first randomized and controlled clinical trial pertaining to microdosed LSD. The trial involved 40 male volunteers who agreed to take sub psychedelic LSD dosage “every fourth morning” of their daily schedule. We ought to say thank you to psychedelic academic figures like Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy for pioneering such studies, especially in New Zealand, where the drug has spent many decades as a strongly prohibited substance.
For the first time, scientists solved the high-resolution structure of these compounds when they are actively bound to the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor on the surface of brain cells. This discovery is already leading to the exploration of more precise compounds that could eliminate hallucinations but still have strong therapeutic effects. Psilocybin – the psychedelic compound in mushrooms – has already been granted breakthrough status by the FDA to treat depression.
Those who didn’t keep up with psychedelic industry news certainly heard about the following 2020 groundbreaking moment, as it pertains to cognitive liberty more broadly, and came at a time of high political tension. On Nov. 3, Oregon passed measure 109 – a legislative measure that legalized psilocybin for therapeutic application. Likewise, this news was coupled with the passing of measure 110, which decriminalized small possession of all drugs in general. Taken together, this news shows a remarkably progressive attitude towards drugs and drug usage in Oregon, and we can only hope the rest of the world follows suit.
The psychedelic medicine renaissance triumphed above what many have called the worst closer to a decade in modern history. Beyond public health obstacles, the industry overcame financial downfall, which is evident by some of these aforementioned “firsts.” Equally important, 2020 set the stage clinically, which means this well funded machine can now explore even more neuro-based treatments for trauma, addiction, depression, and other psychological issues plaguing society. We look forward to covering all the victories to come in the new year and would like to thank the people who made this previous year possible.