American biotech company to study if psychedelics can treat alcoholism

October 19, 2021

Psilera Bioscience, a small biotechnology research company with headquarters in Florida, USA, has announced it will begin preclinical studies with its psychedelic-inspired new chemical entities (NCEs). The aim of the study will be to determine if psychedelics can help reduce alcohol consumption and if they can be used to fight alcohol use disorders (AUD).

The company, which was founded in 2018 says on its website, “From the synthesis of novel compounds to new formulations of known compounds, Psilera strives to enhance our understanding of neuromodulators like psychedelics and how they can be used to treat disease. Our focus is agonist and antagonistic effects on serotonin receptors (5-HT) and other neurologically relevant proteins to target ever-increasing burdens on mental health like addiction, neurodegenerative diseases, and mood disorders.”

The study is described as ‘ground-breaking’ by Psilera as it is the first in-vivo study of NCEs. It is due to be performed at the University of South Florida Health Neuroscience Institute. Up to seven NCEs will be analysed to assess their effectiveness at combating AUD and, and if they can help reduce alcohol consumption in established pre-clinical models.

Psilera’s tagline reads, “Soulful science for mindful medicine”, and their website states, “From antibiotics like penicillin and erythromycin to cancer therapeutics like taxol, microbial natural products have served as templates for drug discovery since its inception. Catechins in green tea, cannabinoids from cannabis and tryptamines from fungi are all well-known for their medical and general health benefits. These compounds all fall into the realm of “natural products”, which are chemicals created by natural substances like plants, fungi, and even marine organisms.”

The company hopes to demonstrate that by working on the brain’s serotonin 5-HT2A receptor, NCEs can reduce activity (in this receptor) which would present an opportunity to further develop therapeutic drugs that have a limited psychedelic effect, combined with the added potential to be able to administer these drugs outside of a clinical setting.

Dr Jackie von Salm is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Psilera, she said this about the forthcoming study, “The growing prevalence of AUD, especially in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic, needs to be addressed as the current methods of treatment are outdated and insufficient. We consider this yet another important step towards our understanding of psychedelic and psychedelic-inspired compounds and their potential as future medicines in the field of addiction. This in vivo research will provide crucial biological feedback which will further validate our computational efforts with BRAIN to expand towards optimised, next-generation psychedelic treatments.”





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