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By Emma Malcolm 10 June 2022 3 min read

Our science is now supporting the emerging field of psychedelic derived medicine. We’re working with local industry partners like Psylo to advance the drugs involved. So, let's dig a little deeper into the patient experience. And find out how these restricted and often maligned drugs are changing lives and mental health treatments.

A bit of a mind field

Therapists are finding psychedelics can unlock parts of our brains that have been near impossible to tap into using other psychotherapies. These findings have been the result of research and development, as well as clinical trials underway globally.

So, here is a (very) short rundown on some of the more advanced work with psychedelics.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) completed a phase 3 trial on MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD and published the results in October 2021. The study found that MDMA-assisted therapy is highly efficacious (effective) in individuals with severe PTSD and treatment is safe and well-tolerated. Even in those with comorbidities (meaning: more than one disease or condition in your body at the same time).

Another psychedelic being trialled is psilocybin. This is the main psychoactive compound in certain varieties of mushrooms (aka magic mushrooms). So far, this is proving successful for patients with severe treatment-resistant depression, major depressive disorder and terminal cancer patients managing end of life anxiety.

There are also studies and trials involving dimethyltryptamine (DMT) for depression.Trials and research are happening at several Australian universities also.

So how can our research and development help?

Under a new license, we will work with local biotech companies to improve existing psychedelic products and develop new ones.

We can work with the psychedelics listed above, as well as several other natural and synthetic compounds. Our scientists can extract, synthesise and modify chemical structure with a view to improve the chemical composition of these drugs.

By focusing on the key ingredients and preparing cleaner products, we hope to help minimise side effects and maximise the chances of them working their magic.

However, there are challenges associated with with psychedelic-assisted therapy. These include the requirement for a therapist to always be with the patient in sessions, which can last up to 10 hours. From this, questions arise. Is it possible to create drugs with a shorter active period?

Or can we alter a natural or synthetic drug to minimise any hallucinogenic discomfort in a therapy session?

We're hoping our new license will help us answer some of these questions.

The drug development road is long and winding. Our chemistry, biology and botanical extractions experts can help in the early stages of the process. They can help the companies who will ultimately take candidates through to clinical trials

A psilocybin producing mushroom. Professor Peter Duggan, CSIRO.

We are not alone

Key to our science is local industry. Together, we bring ideas to life and use our best science to find solutions to problems.

It's vital that our work has real world application and will be supporting a local and growing biomedical industry.

And these wheels are already in motion. With the support of our Kick-Start program, which has helped many emerging businesses, we've already started to work with some local businesses on psychedelics.

One such company is Sydney-based biotech company Psylo. The team at Psylo is using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a pipeline of next generation psychedelic-inspired drug candidates. These candidates will target a variety of mental illnesses.

To help accomplish this goal, we will measure the ability of Psylo’s lead candidates to improve brain cell activity to ensure they are effective prior to progressing toward clinical trials.

Does this sound like your company? We would love to hear from biomedical companies keen to explore psychedelics R&D. Please get in touch through our enquiries team.

Researchers at Sydney-based biotech company Psylo are working with CSIRO on psychedelic-inspired medicine.

Not all sunshine and rainbows

It’s important to note that many psychedelics can only be used legally in clinical trials. Through the collection of robust trial data, we hope this will pave the way for future changes. And, while the results being seen in clinical trials are exciting, there are participants for whom this is not working. And others who’ve had negative experiences in a clinical trial.

There’s plenty of information out there. So, if we’ve piqued your curiosity be sure to find information from sources you trust.

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