Meet the startup aiming to treat opioid use disorder with a kratom-derived drug

Atai Life Sciences (Nasdaq:ATAI) recently announced positive results from a Phase 1 study testing KUR-101 for opioid use disorder. KUR-101 is an oral formulation of the kratom alkaloid mitragynine.

Atai subsidiary Kures is leading the effort to test the potential of mitragynine, which acts as a partial mu-opioid receptor agonist.

Kratom itself is a source of controversy. Proponents note that the supplement, which is native to Southeast Asia, is a safe treatment for everything from anxiety to chronic pain and opioid use disorder. Conversely, critics maintain that kratom is dangerous. The FDA was warned consumers against it. Similarly, calling kratom “unsafe and ineffective,” the Mayo Clinic recommended patients “work with your doctor to find other treatment options.” A number of states have either banned or restricted kratom. Meanwhile, Thailand, where the plant is native, recently decriminalized it.

Meanwhile, scientists continue to study kratom and its …

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