Clinical trials are about to enter a whole new dimension with the establishment of Europe’s first commercial facility for studies using psychedelic drugs.
Set to open in London in August, initial trials will focus on the use of psilocybin to help people deal with the anxiety associated with a diagnosis of terminal illness, and to support them through their end-of-life care.
Drug developers are increasingly exploring psychedelic compounds as potential treatments for mental health conditions such as mood disorders, PTSD and addictions.
Earlier this month, scientists and policymakers gathered in London at the Agenda for Psych Symposium, a daylong programme to discuss the latest research and the future of the psychedelics industry in Europe.
While the potential benefits of the treatments are being explored, the process can be hampered as many of them use controlled substances.
This can make it bureaucratically challenging and expensive to progress the treatments through clinical trials.
However, with similar trials already approved in the UK, where regulators are already more familiar with the safety profiles and potential benefits of these drugs, there is a real potential for it to become a world leader in psychedelics research.
The resurgence in psychedelic drug trials is gathering pace.
Next year, research will begin at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne which will also use psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to treat anxiety and depression in people who are terminally ill.
Meanwhile, another clinical trial involving psilocybin, at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, is investigating whether the compound may help to treat methamphetamine addiction.
It follows successful US studies of the drug in patients with anxiety and depression associated with life-threatening cancer.
At follow-up four-and-a-half years later, the report noted participants “overwhelmingly attributed positive life changes to the psilocybin-assisted therapy experience and rated it among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives.”
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