Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Six Psychedelics Companies Target $120 Billion Market

  • Several companies (public and private) targeting TBI research
  • All R&D is preclinical, but could quickly advance to a Phase II trial
  • Much of the TBI research is psilocybin-based

Not that many years ago, our healthcare system wasn’t strongly focused on head injuries, or more properly, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Unless a patient exhibited overt and persistent neurological symptoms, the injury was typically written off as “a knock on the head” (mild concussion), and the patient was simply advised to have a few days rest. Any medication provided was primarily for pain relief.

Today, Traumatic Brain Injury has leapt to the forefront in our healthcare system. Through improved diagnostics (and simply greater attentiveness), medical science now understands that TBI can lead to a host of serious long-term effects.

Huge medical problem/major treatment market

Now that it is diagnosed more aggressively, the prevalence of TBIs is sobering. A recent Psychedelic Stock Watch article laid out the numbers.
TBI in the United States
  • An estimated 2.8 million people sustain a TBI annually.1 Of them:
    • 50,000 die,
    • 282,000 are hospitalized, and
    • 2.5 million, nearly 90%, are treated and released from an emergency department.
  • TBI is a contributing factor to a third (30%) of all injury-related deaths in the United States.1
  • Every day, 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.1
  • Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.2
  • Direct medical costs and indirect costs of TBI, such as lost productivity, totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000.3

With nearly 1% of the population sustaining a TBI each year, the odds are somewhere around 50/50 that a person will sustain at least one TBI over the course of their life.

Beyond the immediate deaths and hospitalizations, TBI can leave sufferers with (potentially) a host of long-term symptoms, including: headaches and migraines, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, visual difficulties, fatigue, and seizures/post-traumatic epilepsy.

This is not only a major treatment crisis for the healthcare sector, it is a major opportunity for investors.

 A Data Bridge research report estimated TBI to be roughly a $120 billion treatment market (2019), estimated to reach $182 billion by 2027. It’s the largest individual medical treatment market currently targeted by psychedelics-based R&D.

Psychedelics R&D takes aim at TBI market

Few medical experts are more well-versed on the subject of Traumatic Brain Injury than renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Dan Engle.

Author of The Concussion Repair Manual, much of Dr. Engle’s career has focused on TBI. But medical science still has few effective therapies to address the long-term effects of TBI. Dr. Engle’s research into new therapies for TBI led him (not surprisingly) to psychedelic drugs.

This isn’t a recent pivot for Dr. Engle. As far back as 2015, Engle was a regular guest on such psychedelics-oriented programs as The Joe Rogan Experience and The Tim Ferriss Show – discussing the potential of psychedelics-based medicine.

What is recent for Dr. Engle is the opportunity to lead his own clinical research into finding an effective psychedelics-related treatment for TBI. On February 17th, Mind Cure Health (CAN:MCUR / US:MCURF) named Dr. Engle to lead its own R&D program for TBI.

While much of the psychedelics research aimed at TBI focuses on psilocybin-based treatments, MINDCURE is targeting synthetic ibogaine for their own R&D.

In addition to the appointment of Dr. Engle, MINDCURE has made several additional moves aimed at advancing its TBI research and MCUR’s general R&D initiatives.
February 16th: completed beta testing of its PsyCollage bioinformatics platform, a key tool for data aggregation and processing.
March 3rd: announced manufacturing of the synthetic ibogaine to be used in its clinical research
March 4th: announced that PsyCollage had identified ibogaine indications that support neuroregenerative pathways.

As MINDCURE pushes forward on its pre-clinical research, several other companies are advancing psychedelics-based research initiatives aimed at this market.

Wesana Health is a private company that has announced plans for TBI research, but came to this field via an entirely different road.

CEO Dennis Carcillo is a former National Hockey League “tough guy”. Over the course of his NHL playing career, Carcillo sustained several TBIs. As the cumulative toll from these injuries increased, Carcillo sought treatment.

Nothing worked.

Said Carcillo, “I thought I was hopeless because I tried everything. I read every paper. And I couldn’t help myself. That's when suicidal ideation crept in for the first time in my life. It got really scary.”

After his first effort at self-medicating with psilocybin:

“I felt a little bit of joy come back in my life. I wanted to grab my phone and call my wife right away and reconnect with my kids. I felt like the brain fog and fatigue was starting to lift. It just got better progressively as the days went on.”

After six months, Carcillo was told his brain scans showed noticeable improvement.

Today, as Wesana’s CEO, Carcillo wants to bring psilocybin-based relief to other TBI sufferers, but via licensed-and-approved drugs, and along side formal psychotherapy.

Somewhat more advanced is Neuronasal Llc. Part of the atai research platform, Neuronasal’s research is also at the pre-clinical stage and is focused on mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI).

Its lead drug is an N-acetylcysteine derivative and it has already been approved by the FDA as an Investigational New Drug (IND). Neuronasal’s R&D is based around a unique nose-to-brain delivery system.

Revive Therapeutics (CAN:RVV / US:RVVTF) plans to seek IND status from the FDA in Q2 2021, for its psilocybin-based research on TBI. With a different (non-psychedelic) drug already in a Phase III clinical trial, Revive has more experience in formal clinical research. But TBI is not the principal focus of its R&D.

Lobe Sciences (CAN:LOBE / US:GTSIF) is another public company that has announced plans for formal clinical research on mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Also at the pre-clinical stage, Lobe is looking at both psychedelic- and NAC-based options for its research.

Early industry leader, Champignon Brands (CAN:SHRM / US:SHRM) is also involved in TBI-related R&D that is at the preclinical stage. Still under a CTO from the B.C. Securities Commission, Champignon’s operations continue to be impeded by its regulatory issues.

Bright future for psychedelics TBI R&D

With a half-dozen companies in the psychedelics industry already with announced plans for TBI-related research, some investors may see this R&D niche as crowded.

But with a huge treatment population and an equally huge treatment market to target (estimated to reach $182 billion by 2027), there are more than enough revenue dollars on the table for second- and third-place finishers in this derby to be well-rewarded by the market.

The growing interest in this research extends beyond the psychedelic drug industry itself. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its MMA competitors have already turned to self-medicating with psilocybin – as a therapy for their own head traumas.

In an industry article, former champion and now coach Muhammad Lawal acknowledged knowing several MMA fighters using psilocybin therapeutically and he recently tried psilocybin mushrooms himself.

“It’s hard to explain – it’s like a reboot,” he stated. “The next day, you feel kind of like a new person.”

Investors in psychedelic stocks have heard plenty of similar anecdotal reports (or clinical studies) where patients have reported a “reboot” through psychedelics-based therapies. However, such testimonials have typically occurred in connection with depression or PTSD – where formal clinical research has already advanced to the Phase II/Phase III stage.

TBI research represents a major extension in the breadth of psychedelics R&D, into one of the largest of all medical treatment markets.

If clinical research into TBI can replicate the success being seen with clinical trials for depression and PTSD (and there is no reason to believe it won’t), then psychedelics investors have just been handed yet another major investment opportunity in this emerging industry.

DISCLOSURE: The writer holds shares in Mind Cure Health. Mind Cure Health is a client of Psychedelic Stock Watch.
head injury (cover) by stockdevil is licensed under Adobe Stock


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