LSD-assisted therapy resulted in durable anxiety improvement in Phase 2 study

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A randomized placebo-controlled Phase 2 study found that lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)–assisted therapy yielded significant reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms for up to 16 weeks.

The data from the study was recently published in the peer-reviewed Biological Psychiatry.

Researchers at the University Hospital Basel (UHB) conducted the investigator-initiated study, which involved 42 patients.

While there was a substantial amount of research on LSD-assisted therapy in the 1950s and 1960s, psilocybin has emerged as a more popular compound for psychedelic-based therapy in recent years.

In the data published in Biological Psychiatry, researchers used Spielberger’s State-Trait Anxiety Inventory–Global (STAI-G) score and the HAM-D-21 (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale) to quantify anxiety and depression, respectively. Investigators also used the Beck Depressio…

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Ultrasound research with rats shows potential for depression therapy

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Ultrasound-based medical devices may have potential as noninvasive treatment for depression and other mental health issues, according to new research from Tokyo University of Science and Fujimic.

Knowing that whole-body exposure to high-frequency ultrasound increases human brain activity, they used rats — which enjoy high-frequency ultrasound vocalizations (USV) — to explore ultrasonic effects of the mechanisms underlying depression.

Researchers used rats, including some without olfactory lobes (organs that regulate neurotransmission), to study agitation and anxiety-like behavior. with and without exposure to USV for 24 hours. Olfactory bulbectomized (OB) rats were used because they experience changes in neurotransmitters, endocrine secretions and behavior similar to humans with depression.

“Since studies on ultrasound exposure have been primarily conducted on hu…

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Is a serotonin deficiency to blame for depression? Probably not, recent study finds. 

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A comprehensive review published in Molecular Psychiatry found scant evidence for the so-called serotonin hypothesis, suggesting that diminished serotonin pathways’ activity is associated with depression.

The authors conclude that the research provides “no consistent evidence of an association between serotonin and depression.” They also note they could not find support for “the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations.”

The Molecular Psychiatry article does, however, acknowledge that long-term use of antidepressants may lower serotonin concentration.

The broader idea that a chemical imbalance is to blame for depression has become a mainstream concept. The pioneering psychiatrist Joseph Schildkraut helped popularize the theory in the 1960s with a paper titled “The catecholamine hypothesis of a…

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Can the U.S. unify around psychedelics for mental health?

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The U.S. has perhaps never been more divided than it is today. Americans are divided over politics and myriad social issues, COVID-19, climate change, immigration and seemingly everything else. 

Not surprisingly, opinions also diverge on whether psychedelic drugs have therapeutic potential. Earlier this year, a survey from The Harris Poll found that 65% of Americans with anxiety, depression or PTSD believe that drugs such as the classic psychedelic psilocybin and the empathogen methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine (MDMA) should be available for therapeutic use. The compounds remain Schedule I drugs but could find FDA approval in the coming years. 

Mental health professionals have tended to view psychedelics skeptically after they were illegal in the 1970s. A 2018 survey in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that psychiatrists tended to view psychedelics as “potent…

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How psychedelics could address unmet need in mental health

[Image courtesy of Pixabay]Interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics is booming, given their therapeutic potential for treating depression and other conditions. It is telling that psychedelics were among the hottest topics at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting this year in Davos, Switzerland, prompting mockery from late-night comics. 

Although the field remains embryonic, part of the reason for the recent interest in psychedelics is their potential to address difficult-to-treat mental health conditions. 

Get the full story from our sister site, Drug Discovery & Development. 

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How psychedelics could address unmet need in mental health

[Image courtesy of Pixabay]

Interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics is booming, given their therapeutic potential for treating depression and other conditions. It is telling that psychedelics were among the hottest topics at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting this year in Davos, Switzerland, prompting mockery from late-night comics. 

Although the field remains embryonic, part of the reason for the recent interest in psychedelics is their potential to address difficult-to-treat mental health conditions. For example, research such as the U.S. government-backed Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study “showed us that our available medications are not as effective as we’d hoped they would be,” said Dr. John Krystal, chair of the department of psychiatry at Yale University, in a recent webinar from Cybin (Toronto, Canada). For depressed who respond to s…

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Psilocybin holds therapeutic promise — but tapping its potential could be a challenge

Communication between brain networks in people given psilocybin (right) or a non-psychedelic compound (left). [Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

A growing number of small studies indicate that psilocybin, a psychoactive compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, holds promise for treating depression, addiction and anxiety.

But while traditional psychedelics like psilocybin may have broad potential, making effective therapeutic use of them at scale is likely to be challenging in the near term, said psilocybin advocate Derek Chase, who has experience working in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and cannabis industries.

“The mental health segment needs to be readdressed from the ground up” to make the most of psychedelics, Chase said. With psychedelics, the mental health industry should strive to find a “true linking of medication with therapy.”

Psychedelics such as psilocybin should …

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Exploring the potential of milk peptides for treating central nervous system disorders

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Scientists found milk components that may treat central nervous system (CNS) conditions, including anxiety and depression. These are new generation compounds that showed promising results in preclinical studies, predicting the avoidance of side effects caused by anxiolytics and antidepressants found in pharmacies.

Milk can indeed calm down many people — just think of the glasses of warm milk you had before going to bed and be able to get a good sleep after a hard day. But now, scientists went farther, and after examining milk components, they found peptides that could specifically treat anxiety and depression in clinical patients.

Using milk as a therapy

The use of milk for the treatment of diverse conditions is not new. Milk is a carrier of mother-to-young signals that are usually related to stress management and metabolic and developmental adaptations indispensable for the s…

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Ketamine research on the upswing for severe depression

Interest in the dissociative anesthetic ketamine continues to be strong as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression and similar conditions.

But the enthusiasm surrounding the drug is likely higher than the quality of evidence supporting its use to treat severe depression.

Research into the drug’s potential to treat depression, however, is ramping up.

One recent small study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that a single dose of the drug reduced the severity of depression in individuals with suicidal ideation.

The study administered intravenous ketamine to 39 participants and midazolam, a benzodiazepine, to another 39. Investigators administered ketamine at relatively low dose levels where it did not have an anesthetic effect.

The blinded study also found that the drug made patients feel safer, and it also quickly improved neurocognition. In addition, it provided persistent therapeutic effects for up to six weeks afte…

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PurMinds believes psychedelics hold promise for neurological conditions

PurMinds believes psychedelics hold promise for neurological conditions

Interest in psychedelics has ratched up in recent years and a growing number of drug companies are beginning to explore their potential to treat everything from depression to neurodegeneration.

“It is a really really exciting time,” said Aron Buchman, chief strategy officer, PurMinds BioPharma, which is exploring psychedelics’ potential to treat neurological diseases.

American author Michael Pollan recently surmised in an interview with Independent that the psychedelics industry was in a “gold rush” phase. “Whether it’s going to work is another question. I think it’s going to be very challenging to fit into the system,” Pollan added.

Headquartered in North York, Ontario, PurMinds is based in a country that is warming up to the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. The Canadian government has granted a number of patients a federal dispensation covering the therapeutic use of p…

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Why Tryp Therapeutics is exploring the use of psilocybin to treat chronic pain

Many researchers are exploring the potential of the psychedelic compound psilocybin to treat conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But psilocybin offers broader therapeutic promise as it appears to spur neuroplasticity, according to Greg McKee, CEO of Tryp Therapeutics (San Diego).

The company is exploring the use of psilocybin-based drugs for treating eating disorders and chronic pain.

“There’s a lot of similarities mechanistically in terms of how psilocybin works to treat depression that we think could apply to treating pain,” McKee said.

Tryp is working with researchers who believe psilocybin can support neuroplasticity in a manner that reduces chronic pain. Tryp’s research partners believe psilocybin can help correct abnormal neural firing in patients with chronic pain and related conditions.

Greg McKee

If psilocybin promotes neuroplasticity in huma…

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Zuranolone shows promise in treating postpartum depression

Sage Therapeutics’ (NSDQ:SAGE) and Biogen’s (NSDQ:BIIB) experimental depression drug zuranolone fared well in a Phase 3 clinical trial comparing it to placebo in the treatment of postpartum depression.

The investigational drug demonstrated meaningful improvements in terms of the baseline 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD-17) score, the most common clinician-administered depression assessment scoring system.

After a 15-day treatment period, the zuranolone group had a mean change in HAM-D score of −17.8, resulting in a final mean score of 11.0, which is the normal range. Meanwhile, the −13.6 change in the placebo group results in a final mean score of 14.8, indicating mild-to-moderate depression.

For context, in the HAM-D system, a score of 10–13 indicates mild depression. The range of 14–17 represents mild to moderate depression. A score higher than 17 indicates severe depression.

[Related: Biogen bets $1.5B on Sage Therapeutics’ n…

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