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atai donates to MAPS to support health equity through psychedelics

atai Impact has donated to MAPS’ Health Equity programme which is focused on bringing the healing potential of psychedelics to everybody who needs it.



atai donates to MAPS to support health equity through psychedelics

The philanthropic arm of atai Life Sciences, atai Impact, has donated $500,000 to The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics (MAPS) for multi-year support of MAPS’ ongoing initiatives, including its Health Equity programme.

MAPS launched its Health Equity programme in the face of the current global mental health crisis. With the aim of training thousands of therapists each year to help speed-up and scale-up the delivery of psychedelic care, the programme’s initiatives focus on patient access, education, training and outreach among marginalised communities. 

atai Impact’s donation to the programme was issued through the atai Impact Fund at Vanguard Charitable. 

“We were already facing a global mental health crisis, but the pandemic has escalated this even further. To solve this crisis requires innovation, passion and collaboration,” said Florian Brand, CEO and Co-Founder, atai Life Sciences. 

“MAPS has been the driving force of the psychedelic renaissance over the last 35 years, promoting healing and well-being through education and research into psychedelics and their potential to revolutionise mental health for those in need. 

“Their work has been an incredible source of inspiration and motivation to all of us at atai, and we’re pleased to work alongside them.”

Health equity

Racial and gender disparities in healthcare have been widely known for a long time, however, a 2017 study showing that 8.7 per cent of African American adults received mental health services compared to 18.6 per cent of white adults, shows there still remains a need to make drastic improvements.

A number of historical incidents have also contributed to mistrust in medical institutions amongst minority groups – such as the the US Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee.

See also  Cognitive neuroscientists bring new rigour to psychedelics, says Johns Hopkins

Additionally, despite America introducing the NIH Revitalization of Act in 1993, which supported the inclusion of ethnic minority populations as well as women in clinical research, there also continues to be disparities in representation in clinical trials today.

Speaking at a press conference, Rick Doblin, PhD, founder of MAPS, commented: “I really was blind to this idea that it would be difficult to get people of colour to volunteer for our studies, and I particularly thought that when we were going to work with veterans in the US, 40 per cent of the military is of colour and they’re very well integrated. 

“I assumed that once we would start enrolling veterans in a study that we would naturally get a lot of veterans of colour, and it didn’t happen. That led us to question what are these historical factors that have created an enormous amount of distrust by certain minority communities from the medical establishment?

“That made us realise is that in order to get patients of colour, we really needed to start training therapists of colour, and from all different minority groups, sexual orientation, race and religion. So, the Health Equity programme was designed to remedy this lack of diversity and inclusion in our patient population. 

“The support from atai for the Health Equity programme, which some of this donation will go to, is really important.”

Doblin added: “We are both committed to the idea of healing for all. One of the ways in the future that I look forward to doing this is working with refugees who are now increasingly traumatised, and working in prisons, when people are released from prison, to help try to reduce the trauma. I see so many things that we can work on. 

See also  Psychedelics association launches, calling for operating standards

“Another synergy is going to be insurance coverage, because unless we can get this both regulatory approved and also covered by insurance, a lot of people will do self-pay, particularly when we get couples therapy, which is what MDMA can be good for.”

Developing an ecosystem of psychedelic care

MAPS’ Health Equity programme is aiming to develop a diverse network of therapy providers reflecting the diverse experiences of those who have experienced trauma and mental health conditions.

Doblin stated that he envisions approval for MDMA-assisted therapy in 2023, and that following this communities will start to see psychedelic treatment centres popping up across America. 

“We should have, by 2035, around 6000 Psychedelic treatment centres,” said Doblin.

“There is a bit over 6000 hospice centres, where it is a new approach to death. You take it out of the hospital, you don’t see it as something to be completely medicalised and tranquillised. So, any community that is large enough to have a hospice centre would be large enough to have a psychedelic therapy treatment centre.”

MAPS will be training therapists not just to be MDMA, psilocybin or ketamine therapists, but to be psychedelic therapists.

Doblin said: “The Health Equity programme that we have will be training therapists initially for MDMA for PTSD, but we hope that the same therapists will eventually start learning how to work with psilocybin and go through a training programme.”

“I think this collaboration is so important, and the [atai] donation means that we can move forward at an expedited rate. It’s been very difficult to receive philanthropic donations, particularly in this climate of so many for-profit companies. This support from atai is fundamentally beneficial for us moving forward together to help the whole ecosystem develop,” Doblin added.

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Collaboration across non-profit and private companies can help catalyse the development of this ecosystem and help to get care and medicine to the patients that need it at a rapid rate. This can help tackle the escalating mental health crisis affecting over one billion people worldwide which has been massively compounded by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Floridian Brand, CEO of atai, which works with innovative digital therapeutic tools alongside psychedelics, stated atai has been speaking with MAPS to define areas of collaboration. 

Brand highlighted its development programmes looking at second and third-generation compounds, as well as its digital tools, could help contribute to scaling up access to psychedelic therapies whilst maintaining efficacy – achieving the same therapeutic outcome as with first-generation compounds.

 “I think this is a very nice way we can be supportive of an organisation that is really trailblazing the field of psychedelic medicine development and mental health innovation,” said Brand.

“I think they are so far ahead and we would like to contribute with a specific focus on health equity to ensure that the therapists are diverse that there’s equitable access to therapy. This is very much aligned with our vision to ensure that everyone everywhere gets access to mental health innovation.

“We hope to see our clinical trials make significant progress to generate the data that alludes to the safety and efficacy of the compounds, and also demonstrate that digital therapeutics in combination with our compounds can be very effective at making those therapies safer, more efficacious and also most scalable.”

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Psychedelic therapy programmes launch to address heartbreak, burnout and more



Psychedelic therapy programmes launch to address heartbreak, burnout and more

Mindbloom has launched its new Mastermind Series of psychedelic programmes for overcoming heartbreak, burnout and other unique mental health challenges. 

Led by and developed with leading experts in the field, each programme combines specialised teachings with ketamine therapy.

All programmes will include six ketamine therapy sessions focusing on a specific mental health issue, expert-led audio, video, and written content for preparation, treatment, and integration, practical tools such as meditation, one-on-one coaching and group integration sessions.

See also  Psychedelics for frontline workers, palliative care and eating disorders

The first programme in the Series is ‘Recovering from Rejection and Failure’, led by Dr Guy Winch who is a leading authority on emotional health, and a best-selling author and TED speaker whose talks have received over 30 million views.

Winch’s programme focuses on healing and preventing emotional injuries that people suffer in their personal, professional and romantic lives.

Mindbloom CEO and Founder Dylan Beynon stated: “More than 100 studies and 20 plus years of clinical use show that ketamine therapy may be the most transformational mental health treatment available today.

“In the face of epidemics of mental illness, addiction, and loneliness, we’re thrilled to offer our clients access to top experts across a range of issues – and to pair their expertise with our best-in-class ketamine therapy honed over hundreds of thousands of treatment sessions.”

“Emotional wounds like rejection and failure can be even more devastating than physical wounds, yet we don’t give them the same time and attention,” added Dr Winch.

“I’m thrilled to combine my techniques for emotional first aid with ketamine therapy, which has been shown to increase neuroplasticity and help build emotional resilience.”

Additional Mastermind programmes will be released in the coming months, including: Getting Unstuck, by Dr Elizabeth Lombardo; Beating Burnout, by Dr Shauna Shapiro; and Coping with Cravings, by Dr Jud Brewer

“Americans are struggling with heartbreak, burnout, and other challenges every day, and they’re looking for new tools to address them,” said Mindbloom’s Medical Director Dr Leonardo Vando.

“I’m grateful to these experts for providing Mindbloom’s clients with the unique practices and insights they’ve cultivated during their distinguished careers, to help them overcome the biggest obstacles in their lives.”

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Mychedelica launches to revolutionise psychedelic medicine



Mychedelica launches to revolutionise psychedelic medicine

A new company specialising in psychedelic medicine – mychedelica – is offering a comprehensive suite of services to support the advancement of this transformative field. 

With a team of experienced medical writers and research support specialists, mychedelica is committed to providing the highest quality services to researchers, clinicians, and pharmaceutical companies working in the psychedelic medicine space.

Psychedelic medicine is rapidly gaining recognition for its potential to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the field is still in its early stages of development, and there is a critical need for high-quality medical writing and research support services to facilitate its progress.

CEO of mychedelica, Bilal Bham, commented: “We are thrilled to launch mychedelica and contribute to the advancement of psychedelic medicine.

“Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to researchers, clinicians, and pharmaceutical companies working in this groundbreaking field.”

mychedelica provides a comprehensive range of services, including:

Medical writing: Experienced medical writers will craft clinical trial protocols, regulatory submissions, and peer-reviewed publications, ensuring that research findings are communicated clearly and effectively.

Funding research support: Experts in grant writing and fundraising strategies will assist researchers in securing funding for their psychedelic medicine studies.

Regulatory consulting: mychedelica’s team of regulatory experts will navigate the complex regulatory landscape surrounding psychedelic medicine, ensuring that clinical trials and products comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

With its commitment to quality and innovation, mychedelica is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of psychedelic medicine. The company’s services will empower researchers to conduct rigorous clinical trials, clinicians to provide effective treatments, and pharmaceutical companies to develop safe and effective psychedelic medicines.

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Short Wave Pharma: innovating eating disorder care with psychedelics



Short Wave Pharma: innovating eating disorder care psychedelics

Psychedelic Health speaks to Short Wave Pharma CEO Rivki Stern about the company’s plans to innovate eating disorder care through psychedelics and its recent acquisition by Psych Capital.

Short Wave Pharma was recently acquired by global investment firm Psych Capital. The companies are on a mission to transform mental health care, focusing on innovative approaches and treatments, including psychedelics, which are increasingly gaining acceptability as clinical research results accumulate.

Short Wave Pharma’s clinical programmes are particularly focused on Anorexia nervosa – a complex mental health condition with one of the highest fatality rates. Despite the condition being associated with high rates of suicide, it is a hugely underserved area of mental health, with no FDA-approved pharmacological drug, and a high rate of chronicity. 

See also  Psych Capital completes acquisition of Short Wave Pharma

The company has developed a novel delivery method and drug combination specifically designed to address the requirements of this vulnerable population. Short Wave focuses on methods of delivery that will be effective for Anorexia, which is a metabolic disease as well as a mental health condition. Its unique buccal film delivery method is intended to affect the brain while bypassing the liver and gut degradation through mucoadhesive absorption.

“Our goal is to alleviate, solve, and treat mental health conditions. It’s a dire need in our global society, and it’s constantly on the rise,” commented Stern. “Eating disorders are a very good example of that and we have seen a very alarming growth since COVID. 

“What drew our attention to psychedelics is that they have the potential to address very complex mental health diseases and have been designated by FDA as breakthrough medicine for life-threatening conditions.

“Because there are no current solutions, we must harness very innovative approaches and potential solutions. That’s why we started working with psychedelics which may be difficult because they are not regulated, but we don’t shy away from challenges.”

The company’s drug is based on psilocybin and another API which together utilise an expanded mechanism of action and a therapeutic effect superior to psilocybin alone, impacting more than one group of receptors in the brain. 

The delivery method is sensitive to the patients’ needs – who may not want to swallow or be injected – and is known for its high bioavailability. 

“By mucosal absorption, we are speeding the onset of the medicine and amplifying the impact which will help tackle the patients’ metabolic challenges and improve acceptance,” says Stern. 

The drug product and delivery method are currently in preparation for Phase 1 clinical studies, and in its current preclinical studies, the company is validating its delivery and expanded mechanisms of action. So far, initial safety results are positive, with a further, more in-depth toxicity study taking place. 

Psych Capital – which is a public investment and awareness platform for mental health, and has a portfolio of innovative companies – has supported Short Wave Pharma’s IP-driven approach to eating disorder care through its recent acquisition of the company.

Short Wave and Psych Capital say they are aligned in their missions to innovate mental healthcare and deliver transformative care in areas of high unmet need.

Stern commented: “We all share a passion for innovation and together have decades of experience in evaluating investments as well as scaling up R&D projects and start-ups in life sciences. 

“We have a shared commitment to alleviate the suffering from mental health. Every one of us has experienced the frustration and challenges of dealing with mental health issues.

“Together, we’re going to put this commitment into action, by bringing forth innovative solutions and developments and getting them through the first stages of development, from discovery through to early phases of clinical study. 

“With psychedelics components, this is extra challenging because of their status as scheduled drugs within a still evolving regulatory framework, which adds uncertainty to the drug development process. 

“Short Wave Pharma has operational expertise in early-stage drug development which will bring extra value to the group’s projects as they develop through our funnel and grow into promising candidates for mental healthcare.  

“We want to identify the gems, guide them through clinical development, and create the right network to attract the right partners for further development and commercialisation.”

Short Wave Pharma is planning to enter its treatment into clinical studies in 2024.

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