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Ketamine and esketamine show no adverse cognitive effects

According to the findings, some cognitive functions improved seven to 13 days after repeated ketamine infusions.

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Ketamine and esketamine show no adverse cognitive effects

A systematic review of medical research has shown that ketamine and esketamine show no adverse cognitive effects in treatment-resistant depression.

The review of medical research has shown that both ketamine and esketamine have no adverse effects on memory, attention or other cognitive processes. According to the findings, some cognitive functions improved seven to 13 days after repeated ketamine infusions.

The review has been published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

Cognitive safety

Ketamine, which is a widely used surgical anaesthetic, has been shown to have rapid antidepressant effects at low doses, and esketamine, a variation of the drug, has recently been approved for depression treatment. Although ketamine is not yet approved for treatment of depression, some physicians prescribe it for the condition on an “off-label” basis. 

Despite offering promise as a treatment, there are potential safety concerns with ketamine such as memory impairment after long-term recreational use of ketamine, as well as in medical studies in which healthy volunteers received just one infusion. Such problems, and other cognitive symptoms, are a key aspect of major depressive disorder.

According to the new research, led by Breno Souza-Marques, BA, and Lucas C. Quarantini, MD, PhD, of Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil: “Current evidence suggests that ketamine and esketamine do not appear to exert significant deleterious neurocognitive effects in treatment-resistant depression.”

For the review, 14 studies were identified that collectively involved 1,019 patients: one study of esketamine nasal spray for 44 weeks, seven studies of a single ketamine intravenous infusion, and six studies in which patients received six ketamine infusions over two or three weeks. 

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The esketamine study showed no changes in cognitive performance, where as five studies of ketamine reported improvements in memory, processing speed, or cognitive flexibility. Only one of the 14 studies reported cognitive impairment after ketamine treatment. 

Memory was worse 24 hours after six ketamine infusions, and processing speed was worse 24 hours after a single infusion, but these deficits were no longer present seven days after treatment. 

The researchers noted: “Results suggest possible neuropsychological profiles predictive of antidepressant response to ketamine, such as lower attention, slower processing speed, or higher working memory, that should be further assessed in future studies, as these results could provide time-saving evidence to clinicians and mental health practitioners.”

The review highlights that, despite this encouraging evidence, further studies are needed to assess the longer-term neurocognitive effects of the drugs.

Markets & Industry

Top UK and European academics join Clerkenwell Health advisory board

Renowned academics in the field of psychedelics from leading European universities will be joining clinical research organisation Clerkenwell Health.

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Top UK and European academics join Clerkenwell Health advisory board

Clerkenwell Health is expanding its pan-European advisory board with the addition of Dr David Erritzoe, Dr Dea Siggaard Stenbæk, Dr Kim Kuypers and Dr James Stone from Danish, Dutch and British universities.

With psychedelic research flourishing in Europe, Clerkenwell Health says it is building connections between commercial research organisations and academic institutions. 

The expansion of its advisory board will give the company access to knowledge and networks from some of the most prestigious European universities – working to fulfil the company’s mission to create a more vibrant psychedelic clinical trial ecosystem and foster wider sharing of best practices across Europe.

Discover how Clerkenwell Health is developing a gold standard for psychedelic care

Chaired by Dr Henry Fisher, the Clerkenwell Health CSO, the board will focus on clinical research and therapy, with its new members bringing expertise in areas of psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, mental health, experimental medicine and psychedelics.

Speaking to Psychedelic Health, CEO of Clerkenwell Health, Tom McDonald, said: “The UK is an attractive location to undertake psychedelic drug development as the government are opening up innovation pathways and championing clinical research.

“We are excited to be joined in our work exploring psychedelics-assisted therapy here in the UK with leading experts from prestigious European universities. Their involvement ensures we have a variety of expert opinions to shape innovative trial designs whilst preparing a platform for European expansion in the coming years.”

See also  Clerkenwell Health is launching a free UK psychedelic therapist training programme

With an aim to support the commercial research ecosystem in the UK and Europe, the new board additions place Clerkenwell Health as an ideal partner to support drug developers wishing to conduct trials in European countries.

CSO of Clerkenwell Health, Dr Henry Fisher, stated: “I am delighted to be able to bring together such high calibre advisors into the Clerkenwell Health scientific advisory board. These researchers are leaders in their respective fields in Europe and are shaping the direction of clinical and fundamental research with psychedelics. 

“This gives us access to the knowledge and network built in some of the most prestigious universities from Copenhagen to Maastricht and London, and it is a privilege to be able to consult with these figures on our own research.”

Meet the advisory board

Dr David Erritzoe is clinical director and deputy head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.

Erritzoe is currently investigating brain mechanisms and therapeutic potential of MDMA, ketamine and classic psychedelics, and is clinical senior lecturer in general psychiatry in Centres for Neuropsychopharmacology and Psychedelic Research at Imperial, as well as consultant psychiatrist at St Charles Hospital, CNWL Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. Erritzoe also heads a NHS-based research clinic at St Charles Hospital, the CIPPRes Clinic.

Dr Dea Siggaard Stenbæk is an associate professor at University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital. 

Stenbæk’s research mainly focuses on neuropsychopharmacological effects of the 5-HT2A receptor agonist psilocybin. She collaborates with the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London and is currently an honorary clinical research fellow in this group. As the clinical lead, she works on a study of psilocybin as a treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder.

Dr Kim Kuypers is an associate professor at Maastricht University. Her PhD focused on memory and risk-taking during MDMA intoxication. 

Kuypers’ main goal is to understand the neurobiology underlying flexible cognition, empathy and wellbeing. To accomplish this she uses a psychopharmacological model, studying the (sub)acute and longer-lasting effects of psychedelics on these behaviours and their underlying biology.

Dr James Stone worked as a clinical senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, with a focus on experimental medicine and clinical trials. 

During his time there, Stone set up the ketamine clinic at the Maudsley Hospital for patients with treatment-resistant depression. He also worked at Imperial College London as a senior lecturer, working as co-director of the intercalated BSc in neuroscience as well as continuing research into the role of glutamatergic abnormalities in psychosis.

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Psychedelics for addiction research gets $2.7m grant

The grant will fund research to investigate the efficacy of psychedelics for treating a variety of addiction disorders.

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Psychedelics for addiction research gets $2.7m grant

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have received a $2.7m (~£2.15m) grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, to research psychedelics.

The researchers will use the funding to screen hundreds of compounds to discover new, non-hallucinogenic treatments for substance use disorders. 

With previous research having shown that psychedelic drugs can rewire parts of the brain involved in depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder, David Olson, associate professor in the departments of Chemistry, and Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at UC Davis, is searching for similar effects among compounds without the hallucinogenic effects of drugs like LSD. 

He calls these compounds psychoplastogens, for their ability to modify the brain.

See also  World’s first study on ketamine for behavioural addiction now complete

Olson commented: “I’m very excited that NIDA is recognising the potential that psychoplastogens might have for patients with substance use disorders.

“This grant will help us to understand the basic mechanisms by which these compounds impact addiction, and hopefully develop more effective and better-tolerated treatments.”

Olson’s work is part of a growing focus on psychedelics research at UC Davis and UC Davis Health. His lab has synthesised hundreds of molecules related to psychedelics in the search for new drug therapies. 

One such molecule, tabernanthalog, or TBG, produces both rapid and sustained anti-addictive effects in rodent models of heroin and alcohol self-administration.

The research will include mechanistic studies to understand how TBG impacts addiction and the development of new compounds with psychoplastogenic effects, he said. The team will use high-throughput screening to test for efficacy, safety and treatment potential. Promising compounds will undergo additional animal testing at CU Anschutz.

Delix Therapeutics, a startup founded by Olson, is also investigating non-hallucinogenic psychoplastogens for treating depression, anxiety and related disorders but is not involved in the project.

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Markets & Industry

Beckley Psytech strengthens leadership team as it progresses clinical pipeline

Dr Laura Trespidi has been appointed as chief development officer (CDO).

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Beckley Psytech strengthens leadership team as it progresses clinical pipeline

Dr Laura Trespidi is joining the Beckley Psytech leadership team as CDO, bringing more than 30 years’ experience in global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Trespidi will bring world-class leadership and technical expertise to the Beckley Psytech team, having worked across clinical product development and manufacturing, from pre-clinical research through to market approvals and global product launches. 

Trespidi will support the progression and development of Beckley Psytech’s investigational assets, including the proprietary formulations of intranasal 5-MeO-DMT, currently in Phase 1 studies.

See also  Beckley Psytech collaboration to develop next-gen psychedelic medicines

CEO of Beckley Psytech, Cosmo Feilding Mellen, said: “Dr Trespidi joins us as our chief development officer at an exciting time, with our lead drug candidates in Phase 1 clinical studies. Laura’s impressive track record and expertise across clinical development and manufacturing will be invaluable, as Beckley Psytech continues to grow and progress its clinical pipeline in this groundbreaking area of medicine.”

Trespidi’s former roles were placed at Summit Therapeutics and other leading companies such as Mundipharma, Shire Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline. Most recently Trespidi worked as senior vice president of chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC), supply chain and technical operations at Summit Therapeutics, successfully leading global CMC and external manufacturing teams through the development and market preparedness of investigational medicines, including end-to-end supply chain and manufacturing readiness and expansion.

Trespidi’s expertise extends further to formulation development, technology transfers, outsourcing and offshoring, with additional experience developing and executing change management strategies. 

Throughout her career, Dr Trespidi has played a pivotal role in over 40 first-in-human clinical trials and pre-clinical trials, as well as contributing to four New Drug Applications (NDA) and market approvals, and over 40 Investigational New Drug (IND) applications.

Trespidi said: “I am thrilled to be joining Beckley Psytech at such a transformative time for the Company and for psychedelic medicines. 

“Beckley Psytech’s innovative pipeline has real potential to offer meaningful improvement to patients’ lives, and I am looking forward to working alongside a world-class team to turn this vision into a reality.”

Trespidi received her PhD in Pharmaceutical Science from the University of Milan, Italy; an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of North Carolina, US; and in 2008 she received an M.B.A from the Open University Business School, UK. She has also authored a number of papers published in peer-reviewed journals and is a member of several scientific societies and associations.

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