We saw a great deal of mainstream press coverage this week, with articles in Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Guardian, and other outlets drawing attention to the psychedelic renaissance.
The New York Times article opted for the title, There Is a Lot of Fungus Among Us. This piece pays particular attention to psilocybin, derived from the Psilocybe mushroom, which has been the subject of a large portion of the research and commercialization efforts in the present renaissance.
In a somewhat meta headline, the Bloomberg article reads: Why Psychedelics, Big in the 1960s, Are Drawing New Interest Now. The piece takes a broader focus, mentioning a number of psychedelics including LSD, mescaline, DMT, MDMA, and (of course) psilocybin.
Finally, a piece in The Guardian covers a paper published by David Olson et al., discussed below, that presents a non-hallucinogenic compound with similar indicators of efficacy to those seen in hallucinogenic compounds – at least in animal studies (an important caveat).
These three articles point to a broader trend, especially when read in the order presented above. In the psychedelics sector we have seen a significant focus on psilocybin, with a whole host of companies emerging with hopes to develop the drug into an approved medicine for neuropsychiatric indications.
As psilocybin became a popular molecule of interest, companies increasingly investigated other psychedelics, epitomized by a recent flurry of announcements regarding 5-MeO-DMT development pipelines. Beyond the exploration of un(der)explored molecules, we are now seeing a great deal of activity in the realm of analogs and new chemical entities.
Even our name, Psilocybin Alpha, has been outpaced by this incredible rate of change and exploration…
Psychedelic Sector News
MindMed Uplists to the Nasdaq
This week, MindMed became the second psychedelic drug development company to list on the Nasdaq, following COMPASS Pathways’ IPO in September 2020.
It was a tough first day for the company, trading under the ticker MNMD. Writing in the popular newsletter The Hustle, Kolby Hatch quipped: “in a public market where stocks-can-do-no-wrong, MindMed got torched by close, dropping as much as 30%.”
At the time of writing (20:30pm BST), MNMD was trading around $3.85.
Delix Therapeutics Co-Founder Identifies Non-Hallucinogenic Compound Using PsychLight
A new journal article in Cell, co-authored by Delix Therapeutics’ Co-founder Prof David E. Olson, claims to have developed a sensor that identifies hallucinogenic compounds. They have named this technology PsychLight, and used it to identify a non-hallucinogenic compound, AAZ-A-154.
Speaking to the Guardian, Olson said that this compound had produced encouraging results in animal studies thus far, similar to those seen in hallucinogenic compounds.
This research was written up in a number of popular outlets, including an informative overview by Axios that situated this publication in a broader debate surrounding the development of non-hallucinogenic analogs.
Cybin Targets Alcohol Use Disorder
Toronto-based Cybin has selected a target indication for its CYB003 molecule: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The company hopes their new chemical entity (NCE), which is a deuterated psychedelic tryptamine in the preclinical stage of development, will prove effective in treating AUD.
The company has partnered with Catalent on CYB003, harnessing Zydis orally-disintegrating tablet technology in an attempt to avoid first-pass metabolism.
Looking at our Psychedelics Drug Development Tracker, one may notice that Cybin isn’t the only company in the space seeking to leverage psychedelics in the treatment of AUD.
Journey Colab, for example, is hoping synthetic mescaline will tackle the very same indication; though we haven’t heard much from the private company on this front for some time.
Members of the Awakn Life Sciences team, meanwhile, have been involved in the Bristol Imperial MDMA for Alcoholism (BIMA) study, and the Ketamine for Reduction of Alcoholic Relapse (KARE). While Awakn has a broader focus on addiction, alcoholism is clearly a core indication of interest for the company.
Interestingly, the day after Cybin’s announcement Awakn press released its initiation of an NCE development program via a research partnership agreement. The program looks set to explore MDMA-like NCEs for the treatment of “a broad range of addictions.” Again, Awakn is not alone in this endeavour: exploring entactogens is also the focus of Matt Baggott’s endeavors at Tactogen.
Our goal here isn’t to suggest the merits or shortcomings of any particular programme, but rather to highlight the increasing overlap among companies’ drug development pipelines. As larger psychedelics companies like Cybin begin to target certain indications, will smaller players have to reorient their pipelines? We will certainly be following this closely.
COMPASS Pathways Announces $144m Public Offering
Earlier this week, COMPASS Pathways announced a public offering of 4 million shares. Today, the London-based company priced those shares at $36.00 each, an ~8% discount to the price of CMPS at close yesterday.
The public offering would raise gross proceeds of $144 million (around $131.9m net).
In a Form F-1 filed with the SEC, COMPASS explained the purpose of the offering:
We expect to require substantial additional funding in the future to sufficiently finance our operations and advance development of our investigational COMP360 psilocybin therapy or any future therapeutic candidates. We expect that the net proceeds from this offering, together with our cash and cash equivalents of $190.3 million as of December 31, 2020 will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through 2023.
A week after its Nasdaq IPO on 18th September 2020, CMPS was trading around the $44 mark, and hit an all-time-hight in mid-December at nearly $62. Today, the stock is trading just below the offering price at $35.86 (as of 20:30 BST).
We couldn’t possibly cover every news story each week. Below are a selection of other headlines:
- Numinus announces Phase 1 trial of natural psilocybin mushroom extraction prepared at company lab; plus, Q2 2021 results
- Small Pharma completes RTO, expects to commence trading on TSXV under ticker symbol DMT on May 6th
- PharmaDrug scores Orphan Drug Designation of DMT for prevention of Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury from organ transplantation
- Mydecine set to report 2020 financials on Monday, May 3rd
- Revive Therapeutics files for Orphan Drug Designation covering psilocybin in TBI
- BetterLife files patent for microdosing implant to “prevent drug diversion”
- Bexson Biomedical granted patent covering proprietary ketamine formulation
Bloomberg: Why Psychedelics, Big in the 1960s, Are Drawing New Interest Now
People have been blowing their minds with hallucinatory substances for millennia — at least since the ancient Greeks drank a psychoactive brew thought to contain a barley fungus, ergot, in one of their sacred rituals. Today, many researchers are convinced that trippers are onto something good — that the alteration of consciousness induced by psychedelics can be a tonic for mental health. Though these substances are largely outlawed, dozens of startups betting on legal changes are seeking to develop treatments based on them for illnesses like depression and anxiety. Not everyone is sold on the idea, and there are risks that come from manipulating the brain’s chemistry.
The New York Times: There Is a Lot of Fungus Among Us
In this piece, Julie Creswell situates the present psychedelic renaissance – specifically with regard to psilocybin – within a broader surge of interest in mushrooms.
Coffee for immune support. Supplements for inflammation. And psychedelics promising relief from serious ailments. Mushrooms are everywhere, and investors are paying attention.
Worthy Or Superfluous? Psychedelics Experts Discuss The Sector’s Ongoing Patent Debate
Our editor-at-large for IP-related affairs, Graham Pechenik, contributed to a discussion on the role of patents in the psychedelics space.
In the introductory section, authors Andrew Ward and Natan Ponieman explain:
The race has heated to such a degree that certain compounds, like psilocybin, have patent trackers to keep abreast of the market.
You can, of course, review those patent trackers here:
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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