Aligned with Albert Labs work on psilocybin for the treatment of cancer related anxiety, a new Phase 2 clinical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has produced new evidence for the effect of psilocybin on long standing depressive symptoms.
Conducted by a Team at Imperial College, London the six-week study found that the effects of psilocybin treatment on patients with moderate to severe depression were comparable to those of a commonly used antidepressant.
The study randomly chose 30 participants to receive two 25 milligram doses of psilocybin three weeks apart. That’s a high enough dose to produce the sensory experiences associated with the magic mushroom, study co-author and head of Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research Robin Carhart-Harris told the Guardian newspaper.
The psilocybin sessions were supervised and lasted six hours, the Guardian reported, which included a three-to four-hour psychedelic experience. Participants lay on their back, supported by pillows, and listened to neoclassical music.
Another 29 participants received Escitalopram each day, along with two inactive 1 mg psilocybin doses three weeks apart. This was done to ensure that any variance between groups was not purely due to receiving psilocybin. All patients were told prior to the study’s start that they would receive psilocybin but were not told the dose.
Both groups also received psychological therapy during the process.
Specifically, both groups showed a similar decrease in the severity of depressive symptoms, measured using a standardized patient-reported depression scoring scale. What’s more, 57% of those in the 25 mg psilocybin group were deemed to be in remission from their depression, compared to 28% in the Escitalopram group.
Albert Labs chief medical officer Malcolm Barratt-Johnson believes the study is an important milestone in improving our understanding of the clinical benefit psilocybin therapy may bring to patients suffering from psychologically related illness.
“This groundbreaking study from a distinguished team at Imperial College, London has demonstrated the important role psilocybin may have in the treatment of patients with long standing moderate to severe clinical depression, a particularly difficult patient group to treat,” Barratt-Johnson told Proactive. “It shows the very real potential psilocybin has in psychological medicine.”
Albert Labs is currently developing KRN-101, a psilocybin-based treatment for cancer-related anxiety, a condition thought to affect some 1.2 million people in the UK alone.
The company is pursuing a “real-world evidence” path in generating the data required to licence and bring KRN-101 to market, a process it says is both far faster and at a lower cost than traditional randomized clinical trials.
“As our understanding of this nascent and fascinating therapeutic modality increases, I’m hopeful we will see psilocybin therapy being examined in the treatment of an expanding range of previously difficult to treat mental illnesses,” Baratt-Johnson added. “I’m excited to be involved in examining how this new therapy may benefit the many individuals and their families who suffer these limiting clinical conditions but for whom treatment is presently limited.”
Albert Labs is currently developing study protocols for KRN-101, with the hope to have the first patients recruited in the third quarter of 2021. Initial outputs from these studies should be available in the second quarter of 2022, with peer-reviewed publication to follow soon after.
Contact Andrew Kessel at [email protected]
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