July 21, 2021

Biotech companies developing psychedelics as a treatment for neurological conditions

Neurological disorders are diseases that affect the central and peripheral nervous systems. Broadly, these affect the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, cranial nerves, autonomic nervous system, neuromuscular junction, nerve roots, and muscles.

There are presently about 600 types of neurological disorders plaguing the world. Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease are a few to mention. Neurological disorders can manifest themselves through symptoms like muscle weakness, poor coordination, loss of sensation, etc.

Neurological disorders can be a combination of various causes involving lifestyle-related issues, exposure to certain infections, genetic abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, environmental causes, and physical injuries. According to a United Nations report, nearly 1 in 6 people of the world’s population suffer from neurological conditions, with 6.8 million deaths occurring every year.

Many biotech companies have embarked on a quest to find curative medicines and drugs for neurological disorders, with minimal side effects. Biotech companies are formulating a different approach to treating these disorders with the use of psychedelics.

What are psychedelics?

To begin with, let’s first discuss what exactly psychedelics are. Psychedelics come under the umbrella of psychoactive substances that cause changes in perceptions, mental mood, and cognitive behaviors.

They have an effect on every sense of the person, thus making alterations to how a person thinks, his sense of time, and emotions. They can also induce hallucinations. Some psychedelics occur naturally whereas others are produced in laboratories.

Untapped potential of psychedelics for treating neurological disorders

The boston-based biotech company Delix Therapeutics believes that psychedelics can induce “a rewiring of the brain” owing to its effects on the nervous system. This firm is also hoping to manufacture drugs that can provide benefits in treating neurological disorders, without causing hallucinations.

Chief executive Mark Rus states “well over five hundred well-characterized psychedelic analogs are at varying stages of the pre-clinical characterization being rapidly advanced, starting with DLX-1 and its first runner, DLX-7.” The firm is employing a novel biosensor dubbed psychLight to detect certain novel compounds, known by the name psychoplastogens. These compounds bear the potential to promote neural plasticity- the ability to modify and adapt as a response to stimuli, which is a sign of a healthy functioning brain. This can also help in the cure of brain-related disorders.

The recently developed biotechs are trying to eliminate the stigma that lurks around the use of recreational drugs for medicinal purposes. Research is being carried out to gain more knowledge about psychedelics such as Psilocybin and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), which have given promising results in treating certain psychiatric disorders.

Psilocybin is a hallucinogen present in some mushrooms. This also includes LSD, a hallucinogen bearing the potential to distort people’s perception of reality.

Lately, it was believed that the brain complexity posed to be maximum when a person was conscious. Psychedelics pose another benefit, as the brain’s complexity in psychedelic induced states surpass the brain’s complexity during normal wakefulness.

Studies and research carried out in this area

Cybin Inc. is one of the leading biotech companies in its research for psychedelic pharmaceutical treatments for psychiatric and neurological disorders. It has already entered its phase-2 clinical trials for the psychedelic CYB003, a deuterated psychedelic tryptamine for curing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). In fact, If you are looking for Top Psychedelic Stocks For Potential Upside, you cannot miss this one!

The researchers of GW Pharmaceuticals Epidiolex are trying to use therapeutic cannabis-based drugs to unleash a whole range of its benefits for the medical world.

In Berlin, another phase-2 clinical trial is being carried out by Atai Life Sciences for RL-007 for treating schizophrenia.

Ethical objections

Psychedelics being recreational drugs have caused several ethical objections to be tested in studies. These studies are subjected to a paradox.

On one hand, there are risks associated with the patients being studied without their legal consent, and on the other hand, conducting such studies is essential for development in this direction. These psychedelics with unidentified benefits also can produce side effects, mainly because they are still under scrutiny and their nature is not well-known.

Over to you…

Researchers are optimistic about the scope of a breakthrough in these intensive studies being conducted. But there are a lot of limitations attached to these. Although many biotech companies are undertaking studies in this area and are making progress at some pace, we still have a long way to go to bring psychedelics as an impactful treatment.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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