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.
If psilocybin promotes neuroplasticity in humans, as assumed, the compound could potentially treat conditions ranging from fibromyalgia to phantom limb pain to complex regional pain syndrome. “We think [psilocybin] applies to a lot of different areas in the chronic pain space,” McKee noted.
In terms of the current treatment landscape for chronic pain, many of the therapeutics in this area “have not shown lasting efficacy and patients drop off therapy, or there are challenging side effects,” McKee said.
The ongoing opioid crisis is another complication. Opioids played a significant role in fueling a record number of drug overdose deaths in 2020.
Tryp has research partnerships with the University of Florida and the University of Michigan. The company forged an alliance after discussing collaboration on fibromyalgia with Dr. Daniel Clauw, a professor of anesthesiology, medicine and psychiatry at the University of Michigan.
Clauw is an expert in fibromyalgia and chronic pain who has explored the potential of a range of drugs, including cannabinoids.
Tryp will collaborate with Dr. Dan Clauw, who leads the Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center and the Center for Consciousness Science at the University of Michigan, to explore novel methods of delivery of psilocybin and their impact on indices of pain as well as the role of psilocybin in inducing neurophysiological complexity and indices of pain.