Danish And British Startups Partner to Bring Innovative Psychedelics to Patients

Danish And British Startups Partner to Bring Innovative Psychedelics to Patients

Octarine Bio, the synthetic biology drug development company that produces psilocybin from sugar using fermentation, partners with clinical research organisation Clerkenwell Health to deliver clinical trials.

  • Europe’s commercial psychedelic healthcare ecosystem is growing, building on a strong heritage of academic and civil society support
  • A partnership between two innovative startups leads the way for advancing patient access to psychedelic medicines in Europe
  • Octarine uses yeast fermentation to produce psilocybin from sugar, a more cost-effective, scalable and sustainable mode of production than traditional synthetic methods
  • Backed by world-leading clinical researchers in the psychedelic field and with its soon-to-launch research Centre of Excellence, Clerkenwell Health is well positioned to accelerate the psychedelic sector by offering specialist clinical research support services

8th September, London: With innovative companies flourishing across the continent, Europe is becoming a psychedelic hub attracting ideas, capital and mainstream support. Collaborations are beginning to strengthen the commercial ecosystem for psychedelic drug development.

Copenhagen-based synthetic biology company, Octarine Bio, backed by institutional investors such as Oskare Capital, The Danish State Growth Fund and prominent angel investors including Bruce Linton, announces partnership with Clerkenwell Health, a UK-based psychedelic-specialist contract research organisation (CRO) backed by VC fund Vine Ventures and leading UK angel investors, to advance patient access and quality of psychedelic medicine.

Patients in clinical trials will soon be able to receive psilocybin that has been produced in European labs for various mental health conditions. The psychedelic ecosystem is growing in Europe and commercial companies are accelerating this growth by increasing efficiencies in different parts of this ecosystem from research infrastructure to supply chains.

Clerkenwell Health supports the ecosystem not only in the UK but more widely in Europe by providing clinical research support to drug developers, while Octarine offers innovative methods for producing natural and novel psychedelic compounds that have been successfully demonstrated at lab scale.

Currently, many trials are run in partnership with university hospitals that can struggle with their commercial partners’ need for speed and scale. Additionally, they lack the pleasing ‘setting’ commonly ascribed to a positive psychedelic experience. Meanwhile, traditional clinical research organisations are struggling to get to grips with the nuances of psychedelic-assisted therapies in terms of the clinical settings and psychotherapies that will drive optimal patient outcomes.

Tom McDonald the CEO of Clerkenwell Health celebrated the partnership saying “It’s a real pleasure to be working with Octarine who are at the forefront of biosynthesis of a range of compounds which should enable reduced costs for patients. They have a strong pedigree in drug development which fits perfectly with the commercial and clinical expertise we have built within the Clerkenwell Health team”.

Through the partnership, Octarine now has access to services from Clerkenwell Health to expedite its clinical development with biosynthetic psilocybin and expects to be able to fast-track steps leading to human clinical trials.

Octarine harnesses biology to deliver innovative cannabinoid and psychedelic therapeutics to improve the health and wellbeing of people worldwide. A key barrier to increasing the accessibility of psychedelic treatments is related to limitations associated with the production of psychedelic compounds in the high quality required for clinical development.

Octarine solves this problem by turning to yeast, a microorganism widely known for its use in producing beer by turning sugar into ethanol. Octarine hijacks this fermentation machinery to turn sugar into psilocybin. Yeast is a very close relative of Psilocybe mushrooms from an evolutionary point of view and that enables yeast as the front runner of biosynthetic production hosts. This innovative IP protected production process is easily scalable (yeast fermentation manufacturing is well-established in many industries including pharma) and highly modular, enabling the production of a range of natural and novel tryptamine psychedelics just by swapping a few genes.

Using fermentation to produce psilocybin comes with many benefits such as low cost (glucose costs ~$0.5 USD/Kg while chemical starting materials are highly costly), sustainability (glucose production is renewable and CO2 neutral), and supply chain stability (glucose is a highly abundant molecule produced all over the world with minimal fluctuations in price and supply).

“Our core ambition at Octarine is to advance psychedelic therapy across Europe and the world in a way that is consistent with sustainability principles while ensuring patient accessibility. We’re thrilled to be working with a company that shares our vision and is committed to making Europe a leader in the field by providing world-class clinical expertise tailored to the nuances of psychedelic therapy. We look forward to working closely with the Clerkenwell Health team to advance our psychedelic drug programs through clinical trials.” said Nick Milne PhD, Co-founder and CSO of Octarine.

The partnership between the two companies demonstrates that a mainstream backed ecosystem is beginning to form in the sector. Both companies have received mainstream support with Clerkenwell Health partnering with the University of Manchester and Octarine having received venture backing from the Danish State Growth Fund.

Having a deep heritage in the psychedelic space, it is not surprising that Europe is becoming a hub for psychedelic medicine. A number of non-profit organisations have been working to advance psychedelic science across Europe such as the MIND Foundation in Germany, Osmond Foundation in Sweden, Beckley Foundation and Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research in the UK, and EmmaSofia in Norway.

Jo Neill Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Manchester and Chair of Drug Science’s Medical Psychedelics Working Group said, “I am delighted to have joined Octarine Bio’s scientific advisory board and to have Clerkenwell Health as part of the Drug Science working group. One of our key aims is to enable patients to access much needed psychedelic-assisted therapy and the new partnership between these two companies will be an important part of that process.”

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About Clerkenwell Health

Clerkenwell Health is an innovative, UK-based mental health start-up building a platform to accelerate patients’ access to a range of psychedelic-assisted therapies over the coming years. Clerkenwell Health is focused on helping its clients generate the clinical data required to mainstream these exciting treatment methodologies with doctors and regulators alike.

The team is led by CEO Tom McDonald, a former Accenture pharmaceutical specialist with a focus on patient-centric care and CSO Dr Henry Fisher, a chemist and drug policy expert. Patient therapy is led by Dr Sara Tai, a clinical psychologist, a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Manchester and an expert in psychotherapy in clinical trials of psychedelic medicine.  www.clerkenwellhealth.com

About Octarine Bio

Octarine Bio’s mission is to solve the greatest health challenges by enabling innovative cannabinoid and psychedelic therapeutics. Many neurological and psychological conditions are poorly served by current drugs, leaving physicians, patients, and their families desperately seeking alternative therapies. Cannabinoids and psychedelics are poised to offer breakthrough therapies for these debilitating conditions, but to realize the full potential of these molecules, issues with their production and undesirable properties must first be solved.

Octarine Bio is perfecting a biological approach to producing improved & novel cannabinoid and psychedelic molecules with tailored modes-of-action. Their proprietary technology combines synthetic biology, yeast fermentation and enzymatic derivatization to develop IP protected drug candidates that are validated in pre-clinical models. www.octarinebio.com