Magic Mushrooms Have the Potential as Depression Therapy？Compass Pathways Filing for IPO
Compass Pathways, a British company, established in 2016. Since two out of three founders have a mental illness family history, the company bears a deepened understanding of the lack of mental disorder treatments. This firmed the founders’ decision to establish the company and focus on benefiting more depression-related patients through innovative, supportive therapy.
By Ray Jhang, Ph.D. Candidate
With the prevalence of psychotic diseases rises dramatically, an increasing number of patients are suffering, while effective medical relief and compact guidelines are far from perfect. Limited medical support spurs Compass Pathways to come up with a synthesized compound made of Psilocybin extracted from over 200 kinds of psilocybe fungi (Known as “Magic Mushrooms”). Synthesized Psilocybin (COMP 360) along with FDA approved therapists, could provide patients with medical assistance aside from standard treatments.
A licensed therapist would conduct supportive treatment. After taking Psilocybin capsules, patients will be asked to explore self-consciousness and mental status in a well-designed environment with music. The entire therapy takes up 6-8 hours and carries out in the form of a trusting group built up by patients with qualified therapists’ supervision.
FDA praised psilocybin therapy in 2018 as “an innovative therapy design for drug-resistant depression”. Early experiments have proven that Psilocybin-based therapy is safe and effective for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental illnesses. Compass Pathways is now conducting phase 2b clinical trials on 216 patients with treatment-resistant depression at 20 enroll sites throughout Europe and the U.S. Psilocybin would serve as supportive treatment combined with serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Further clinical observation and studies would be performed to evaluate psilocybin’s safety and efficacy of psilocybin and determine the adequate dosage.
Nevertheless, malignant side effects are still seen in phase II clinical trial. Two out of 216 patients performed therapy-related adverse symptoms. One displayed adjustment disorder after one month of therapy while the other had suicidal attempts, both of whom have thus withdrawn the clinical trial.
Given the company’s promising and potential importance in treating depression, Compass Pathway has filed an IPO with Nasdaq. It has successively raised about US$100 million, and one of the famous investors in Silicon Valley tycoon is Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and the largest early investor of Facebook. The successful fundraising of Compass Pathways may show that pharmaceutical investors are optimistic about the future of this therapy.
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