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Ketamine-assisted therapy for alcohol addiction could save lives

Findings from the world’s first controlled study of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for alcohol addiction have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.



Ketamine-assisted therapy for alcohol addiction could save lives

The world’s first controlled study exploring the use of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD) has shown positive results.

Results from the Awakn Life Sciences’ Phase IIa/b study investigating ketamine-assisted therapy for the treatment of AUD has shown 86 per cent abstinence for six months following treatment. The therapy has the potential to save lives, according to the study’s lead researcher.

The primary and secondary endpoints of the double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, which included 96 patients with severe AUD, were days abstinent and relapse at six-month follow-up.

Results from the study have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

See also  Awakn initiates first ever ketamine treatment study for gambling addiction

“Alcohol Use Disorder is pervasive and persistent public health issue, affecting at least 390 million people globally. Treatment rates are low and relapse rates post-treatment tend to be high. We urgently need new and more effective treatments,” said psychopharmacology professor Celia Morgan, who led the trial conducted by the University of Exeter.

The findings demonstrated that ketamine combined with proprietary manualised therapy (KARE) therapy, resulted in total abstinence in 162 of 180 days in the following six-month period. This was an increase in abstinence from around 2 per cent prior to the trial to 86 per cent post-trial.

The results for relapse at six months showed that the Ketamine plus KARE group’s risk of relapse was 2.67 times less than the placebo plus alcohol education group.

Morgan, who is also Awakn’s head of ketamine-assisted therapy for addiction, added: “We found that controlled, low doses of ketamine combined with manualised psychological therapy can significantly increase post-treatment abstinence rates.

“This is extremely encouraging, as we normally see three out of four people returning to heavy drinking within six months of treatment. With the data we’ve collected from this study, along with emerging data from other studies of ketamine to treat AUD, they strongly suggest that further trials of this treatment are warranted.”

Participants in the trial were randomised into four groups. The first, three ketamine infusions plus KARE; the second, three saline infusions plus KARE; the third, three ketamine infusions plus alcohol education; and the fourth, three saline infusions plus alcohol education.

The secondary outcomes of the study also identified encouraging results including improved liver function across several different markers, a statistically significant decrease in depression after three months and a decrease in anhedonia, which is the inability to experience pleasure.

Morgan identified further significant results in the reduction in heavy drinking days.

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At six months post-trial, there were only 12 heavy drinking days in the ketamine plus KARE group – a steep reduction compared to other trials in this area. For example, a US study of detoxified alcoholics in outpatient alcohol treatment reported 52 heavy drinking days at the same six-month marker and it is widely believed the real-world data is far higher than this.

There was also a 10-fold decrease in the risk of mortality; one in eight patients would have died within 12 months without treatment, a number which decreased to one in 80 following the treatment.

In total, the trial demonstrated that three subanaesthetic infusions of ketamine support abstinence from alcohol and that abstinence may be further enhanced when ketamine treatment is combined with therapy.

Anthony Tennyson, Awakn’s chief executive, commented: “We are so pleased to see such encouraging results in an area of treatment that has been stagnant for so long, leaving so many people with little or sub-par options available to them.

“We will continue to support this research and future clinical trials as we push to bring a radical shift in the alcohol addiction treatment industry.”

Awakn has acquired the intellectual property to the therapy under license for use in further research, its clinics in Europe, and its partnerships globally.


Patient approved to receive psilocybin therapy for MDD

Braxia Scientific will deliver the therapy through Health Canada’s Special Access Program (SAP).



Patient approved to receive psilocybin therapy for MDD

Braxia Scientific has received approval from Health Canada to provide psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for a patient with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in Ontario.

The psilocybin-assisted therapy will be delivered through Braxia’s wholly owned subsidiary Canadian Rapid Treatment Centre of Excellence (CRTCE).

The approval is Braxia‘s first psilocybin-assisted therapy treatment using Health Canada’s SAP, however, the company was the first to receive Health Canada approval for a multi-dose psilocybin-assisted therapy clinical trial in July 2021.

See also  Health Canada approves low-dose psilocybin mental health clinical trial  

Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at Braxia Scientific, Dr Joshua Rosenblat, commented: “Being among the first to begin delivering psilocybin-assisted therapy treatments in Canada last year through our clinical trial, we have developed and optimised the infrastructure, including rigorous training for our therapists through our Braxia Institute, to provide a positive patient experience while optimising outcomes.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first Health Canada SAP approval for psilocybin-assisted therapy for a person with Major Depressive Disorder in Ontario. 

“My patient and I are extremely grateful for this opportunity to access this promising treatment. Health Canada was very responsive to this request, promptly providing the Letter of Authorization. 

“This rapid approval stands in contrast to the previously required Section 56 exemptions that could take years to fully process. Allowing use of the SAP will be incredibly beneficial for patients in need of this treatment that are unable to receive it through psychedelic clinical trials.”

Chairman and CEO of Braxia Scientific, Dr Roger McIntyre, commented: “Since opening our first clinic in 2018, in Toronto, Canada, our focus has been on creating a true centre of excellence for people living and suffering with depression to gain access to the most effective treatments. 

“Our ability to deliver psilocybin-assisted therapy is an important step in our journey to achieving our vision of finding a cure for depression.

“The experience of our therapists who have already delivered this novel treatment in multiple doses to multiple patients in our ongoing psilocybin trial, combined with data we’ve collected to date and expect to read out in the coming weeks, provides an excellent opportunity for new applicants to receive access to the most advanced clinical protocols and care to achieve best outcomes in this field. 

“In addition to providing access to innovative treatments for depression, Braxia Scientific is a   leader in comprehensive research, development and best-practices implementation of psilocybin, ketamine and related agents.”

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Numinus receives Health Canada SAP approval for psilocybin therapy

Numinus says it hopes the approval is the beginning for Canadian patients to obtain access to mental health care through psychedelic medicine.



Numinus receives Health Canada SAP approval for psilocybin therapy

Health Canada has granted approval to Numinus’ application to complete psychedelic-assisted therapy using psilocybin to treat an applicant with treatment-resistant depression.

In January this year, Health Canada amended its Special Access Program (SAP) to include access to psychedelic compounds on a case-by-case basis.

To be considered for the SAP program, an applicant must have a serious or life-threatening condition where conventional treatments have failed, are unsuitable or are not available in Canada.

Recent research has shown that psilocybin-assisted therapy holds promise as a treatment for a number of different mental health disorders such as depression. Numinus, which is focused on advancing innovative treatments and safe, evidence-based psychedelic-assisted therapies, put forward an application for its psilocybin therapy to be included on the (SAP).

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Founder and CEO of Numinus, Payton Nyquvest, commented: “I am proud that Numinus is working with Health Canada to help Canadians with mental health challenges in ways that were not previously available, including using psilocybin-assisted therapy through Health Canada’s SAP.

”The SAP recognises a growing body of research that has consistently shown the efficacy of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to treat a broad range of mental health conditions that are extremely difficult to treat with conventional therapies. 

“We hope that our first psilocybin-assisted therapy treatment is the beginning for more opportunities for Canadian patients to obtain safe access to treatment and care in the mental health sector through psychedelic medicine.”

See also  Health Canada approves low-dose psilocybin mental health clinical trial  

Numinus has confirmed that the treatment will take place at one of its Montreal clinics, consisting of psilocybin-assisted therapy including several preparatory and integration therapy sessions, medical consults and one psilocybin-dosing session. 

All practitioners involved in the treatment have been trained through Numinus’ proprietary psilocybin-assisted therapy protocol and Numinus will partner with Psygen Labs, an approved Health Canada supplier, to provide the synthetic psilocybin to be taken orally during the dosing session.

Dr. Andrew Bui-Nguyen, Numinus’ Québec regional medical director, who completed the application, said: “Numinus has been working with this applicant through other available services over an extended period and we are proud that we can now provide this deeply important treatment. 

“To our knowledge, this is the first Health Canada SAP approval for psilocybin-assisted therapy for someone suffering from treatment-resistant depression in Québec, and the first time our Numinus team will provide this treatment outside of the clinical trial setting.”

As they are approached by treatment-resistant patients who meet this criteria, Numinus-affiliate physicians plan to make additional applications for clients suffering from a range of mental health conditions in BC and Québec.

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Phase III trail of MDMA therapy for PTSD fully enroled

The completion of the MAPS trial enrolment brings the company step closer to making the treatment available for patients.



Phase III trail of MDMA therapy for PTSD fully enroled

The non-profit Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has confirmed it has now fully enroled its Phase III trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD.

It is currently estimated that more than 300 million people are living with PTSD worldwide, with around 12 million experiencing the condition each year in the US. 

About half of people with PTSD achieve symptom reduction through psychotherapy or pharmaceutical interventions. However, for some, PTSD is a chronic condition resulting in serious comorbidities including anxiety, insomnia, hypertension, depression and substance use disorder.

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The MAPS Phase III trial is aiming to help meet the unmet need for treatment in this area, and is expected to take place at 13 sites across the US and Israel. The second, confirmatory Phase III trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD is now fully enrolled at 13 sites in the United States and Israel.

MAPS’ first Phase III trial indicated that MDMA may be a safe and effective treatment for PTSD resulting from any cause, with 88 per cent of participants demonstrating a clinically significant reduction in PTSD symptoms two months after the last experimental session, with no serious safety signals emerging. 

After negotiating a special protocol agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the confirmatory trial, MAPP2 was designed to enrol at least 100 participants in order to confirm the efficacy and further investigate the safety of the treatment.

If the MAPP2 study results, available after October 2022, are statistically significant for a reduction in PTSD symptoms and meet the FDA standards for safety, MAPS and MAPS PBC are planning to submit a New Drug Application to the FDA in the first half of 2023.

CEO of MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, Amy Emerson, commented: “For nearly 20 years, MAPS has sponsored innovative, careful research into the potential of MDMA to treat PTSD. 

“MAPS PBC, supported through the dedication of staff, consultants, participants in the studies, and donors, has organised world-class research into a novel treatment for a devastating condition with too few treatment options. 

“Together, we are eagerly awaiting the possibility that our scientific inquiry may be confirmed in this critically important trial scheduled to be completed in October 2022.”

Associate director for Pivotal Programs, Charlotte Harrison, B.A., commented: ”The completion of enrolment brings us one step closer to making this novel treatment available to the many people who were not able to participate and accessible to those who need it most. 

“We are ever grateful for the participants who spent many hours on their healing journeys in this trial and to the therapists, study coordinators, doctors, and MAPS PBC staff who have dedicated their careers to this effort.”


MAPS is implementing Health Equity initiatives to enrol BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ participants improved representation of populations most likely to develop PTSD following exposure to trauma.

MAPS highlights that, among Americans exposed to trauma, people of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to develop PTSD, yet less likely to receive a diagnosis or have reasonable access to treatment. 

Research demonstrates that racial and ethnic alignment among healthcare providers and their patients can improve survival, safety and trust for patients. However, marginalised populations are historically underrepresented in clinical research, including in MAPS-sponsored trials. 

Through equity initiatives in therapist training and participant recruitment, participants in MAPP2 are more representative of the population of people living with PTSD.

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Psychedelic Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. We do not provide medical advice or promote the personal use of psychedelic compounds. Please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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