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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Atai Life Sciences shares positive results from Phase 1 study of opioid use disorder 

Berlin-headquartered Atai Life Sciences (Nasdaq:ATAI) is sharing positive initial results from a Phase 1 clinical study of KUR-101, an oral formulation of deuterated mitragynine, in patients with opioid use disorder.

Mitragynine is a primary active alkaloid of the kratom plant (Mitragyna speciosa).

Atai’s KUR-101 is an oral formulation of deuterated mitragynine. Atai subsidiary Kures is leading the development of the drug. Kures is a spin-out from Columbia University.

In its recent placebo-controlled Phase 1 study, the drug appeared to be safe and well-tolerated in most patients. In addition, the study found that KUR-101 led to minimal changes in respiratory rate.

Kratom is a controversial botanical. Native to Southeast Asia, kratom has been banned in various countries owing to its opioid-like effects. In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency in the U.S. announced its intent to schedule kratom, which it deemed to be an “imminent hazard to public safet…

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U.S. opioid use disorder cases could hit 1.9 million in 2021

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Opioid use has climbed significantly over the past two decades, but made an especially large jump in 2020, increasing 13%, according to analyst firm GlobalData.

Cases of opioid use disorder (OUD) could reach 1.9 million by the end of this year while 21 million Americans suffer from alcoholism, according to GlobalData projections. Both conditions require billions of dollars in treatment costs and could have a negative impact on U.S. life expectancy.

Because substance abuse tends to affect young and middle-aged adults disproportionately, it “could lead to stagnation or even a decrease in the U.S. life expectancy as more younger adults die prematurely,” said Walter Gabriel, an epidemiologist at GlobalData.

OUD is also fueling demand for FDA-approved medications intended to treat OUD including buprenorphine and methadone.

The opioid crisis could …

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