Psychedelic drugs fix broken brains.
A Revolution is underway.
It started with the Mental Health Crisis.
The Renaissance in psychedelic drug R&D in the 21st century was originally motivated by the quest to tackle stress-related mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD.
As the Mental Health Crisis has spiraled into a global pandemic much larger than the COVID-19 pandemic, this original research continues to advance and broaden.
Scientists have discovered that psychedelic drugs have unique medicinal effects. Most commonly, this is described as the capacity of these drugs to “rewire” the human brain.
More specifically, psychedelic drugs appear to be able to “repair broken neural networks” or simply “rebuild broken brains”.
A new form of mental health treatment gains momentum
Armed with this amazing potential, scientists are wasting no time in exploring new avenues with psychedelic drug research.
As noted, this began with stress-related mental health disorders. Here conventional medicine generally offers only mediocre treatment options.
“Rewiring” the brain (with psychedelic drugs) helps sufferers of depression and anxiety to not only address the root causes of their disorder but also helps their brain to process stimuli differently, in a manner that no longer induces stress-related symptoms.
Patients suffering from PTSD are finding that psychedelics-based therapy can help them to both better process and better cope with the traumatic event(s) that seriously affects their mental (and physical) health.
Human clinical trials using psychedelic drugs to treat depression, anxiety and PTSD are already at advanced stages. Compass Pathways (US:CMPS), MindMed Inc (US:MNMD / CAN:MMED), Cybin Inc (CAN:CYBN / US:CLXPF) and Mydecine Innovations Group (CAN:MYCO / US:MYCOF) are among the public companies conducting such research.
Likewise, the key in treating addiction is to (somehow) control or eliminate the addictive cravings that drive substance abuse. Psychedelic drugs appear to neutralize these addictive cravings.
- Using psilocybin to treat nicotine addiction, 80% of smokers were fully abstinent 6 months later (2014 study)
- Using ibogaine to treat opioid addiction, 50% of addicts had stopped consuming opioids after one month (2017 study)
With these early research successes, scientists started asking a very simple question. What other medical patients could benefit from having their brains rewired?
Brain-related R&D in psychedelics mushrooms
Cognitive decline is an obvious candidate for psychedelic drug R&D. Neural pathways in the brain become impaired through physiological decline. Researchers hope that psychedelics-based therapy can rebuild these neural pathways with the goal of at least partially restoring normal functionality.
Private company, Eleusis Ltd is preparing to commence a Phase II clinical trial using micro-doses of LSD to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s therapy is a multi-billion-dollar treatment market.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is another obvious candidate for psychedelics-based R&D. Concussion, the most common form of TBI, is becoming a huge medical treatment issue – both because of the frequency of these injuries and lack of treatment success with conventional medical therapies.
Again, the issue is neurological impairment, this time as the direct result of physical injury. Post-concussion syndrome arises when neurological symptoms don’t recede even after the physical trauma has healed.
Psychedelic drugs are seen as the best hope in rewiring the brain to eliminate neurological symptoms and restore normal functionality.
For scientists like Dr. Dan Engle, a noted international expert in neurology and lead researcher of psychedelics-based therapy for TBI at Mind Cure Health (CAN:MCUR / US:MCURF), the capacity of psychedelic drugs to address these injuries is still regarded as theoretical.
However, for former NHL hockey player Daniel Carcillo (and others), the capacity of psychedelic drugs to treat TBI is already a fact.
Carcillo’s five-year personal journey to find relief from post-concussion syndrome ended with psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. With a clean brain scan today, Carcillo is now CEO for Wesana Health (CAN: WESA / US:DBDID) – another public company pursuing psychedelics-related treatment for TBI.
TBI treatment is already a ~$120 billion per year treatment market. Data Bridge Research forecasts that this will be a $182 billion treatment market by 2027.
Another promising area for psychedelics-related research is autoimmune disorders, especially those with strong neurological components such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Preclinical psychedelics-based research is already targeting these treatment markets.
A ‘stroke’ of psychedelics genius?
What other medical conditions could benefit from substances that rebuild broken brains? How about stroke?
Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the third-leading cause of death. Conventional medicine has some success in addressing the myriad and often severe neurological symptoms that accompany a stroke. But for many survivors, their disability is a life sentence.
Vancouver-based Algernon Pharmaceuticals (CAN:AGN / US:AGNPF) is seeking to change that.
Algernon is targeting DMT-based research as a treatment for stroke, to “promote neurogenesis and neural plasticity, leading to new synaptic connections, and potentially allowing stroke victims to recover faster and with less damage.” Rebuilding the brain.
Algernon has already been in communication with the FDA regarding the initiation of a Phase I clinical trial. The company has filed provisional patent applications in support of this research.
Overall, this is a $30 billion treatment market, projected to reach $65.6 billion by 2030. More multi-billion-dollar potential for psychedelic drug research.
The ultimate brain-repair drugs
Psychedelic drugs will never be able to cure the common cold (or COVID-19). Nor can they repair broken bones or heal wounds.
However, for any medical condition related to neurological impairment or dysfunction, psychedelic drugs are now looking like the Miracle Drugs of the 21st century.
Depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, cognitive decline, TBI, autoimmune disorders, stroke. The list of major medical disorders (and treatment markets) now being targeted by psychedelic drug R&D seems to grow nearly by the day.
The potential here is getting increasing numbers of leading medical researchers excited. It’s getting a lot of high-profile investors excited. And it’s now getting the mainstream media excited.
What comes after that? The politicians start to figure things out.
Reform of antiquated drug laws is already underway in the United States, Canada and several other jurisdictions. With the Mental Health Crisis alone now affecting roughly 1 in 4 people globally, there is an imperative need for action in this realm alone.
For rapidly growing numbers of medical practitioners and patients, psychedelic drugs are a revolutionary approach to treating an increasing assortment of disorders – with growing clinical data to support this conviction.
For investors looking to capitalize on this healthcare revolution, most public companies in this space are still priced at ground-floor levels.
A revolution in healthcare doesn’t come around every day. Invest in the opportunity. Support the revolution.
DISCLOSURE: The writer holds share in MindMed Inc, Cybin Inc and Mind Cure Health.