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Perks and Pitfalls: Classic Psychedelics for Mental Illness Treatment

Written By: Makenzie Branch 
The majority of therapeutics that are currently used to treat mental illness were designed many years ago. A lack of understanding within the mental health realm as a whole led to inefficient drug development that continue…



Written By: Makenzie Branch 

The majority of therapeutics that are currently used to treat mental illness were designed many years ago. A lack of understanding within the mental health realm as a whole led to inefficient drug development that continues to impact patients today. While these treatments may help treat some patients, they fall short for others because many of these medicines work via the same mechanisms of action. Insufficient therapeutic options for mental illnesses leave thousands of patients struggling to live with their illness each day. It is evident that a new approach to identify and develop new and improved solutions to treat mental health indications is desperately needed. The improvements in understanding and defining mental illness in current years have enabled new therapeutic design and development. These solutions are set to have more success due to the knowledge and scientific findings that back them.

Classic psychedelics are a group of hallucinogenic drugs that cause abnormal conscious states, colloquially known as “trips”. Psychedelic drugs such as LSD, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and psilocybin, cause trips by binding to a particular serotonin receptor in the human brain. While research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics had been at a standstill since being marked as Schedule I substances in the 60’s, a resurgence of research into psychedelics in the last few years has shown positive results for the treatment of mental health indications within certain environments. Although, it is currently unclear if effects like hallucinations are necessary for the treatment of disease, MagicMed Industries is developing a library-based approach to psychedelic derivative development that enables the company to keep beneficial elements of the drugs, while harmful aspects are removed.

Historically, classic psychedelics have been framed in a negative light that amplified their pitfalls. In recent years, however, they have been highlighted for the characteristics that make them beneficial therapeutic agents. Evidence suggests that psychedelics have positive impacts on mental illness, though, the process by which positive outcomes arise are still not understood. Some theories suggest that the hallucinations themselves play a role in altering perceptions while others think that the impact is on a molecular level. Either way, the benefits seen when using psychedelics offer a potential alternative for current therapeutics, and in order to maximize their benefits side effects must be minimized.  

Like most things in life, benefits typically come with drawbacks. Psychedelic therapies in their current form include side effects. These side effects are reactions within the body that occur due to unintentional, off-target effects. Some psychedelic side effects include bad trips, psychosis, and vomiting, among others. In a controlled clinical setting, the potential for a bad trip can be minimized but innovative approaches could further reduce side effects and increase patient access.

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One approach to address bad trips and make treatments safer for patient use are “off switches”. The “off switch” approach tries to stop a bad trip by administering a new drug that has the ability to stop hallucinations. By blocking the same serotonin receptor in the brain that causes hallucinations, these “off switch” drugs can effectively stop bad trips. While this sounds great, the need for an “off switch” is problematic in itself. If a drug really is safe should an off switch be necessary? 

In addition to the negative impact of bad trips themselves, the burden of administering psychedelics in controlled clinical settings can be significant. To mitigate undesired side effects set and the setting are controlled, trips are guided, and working with professionally trained therapists to support patients throughout the process. These precautions have been effective to date; however, they create a number of additional inconveniences and barriers such as cost to the patient and an increased burden on healthcare systems, which directly impacts accessibility. 

By identifying and developing a solution that is able to accomplish therapeutic benefits without introducing side effects or safety concerns, patients would have increased access to therapeutics that work for them and their lifestyles. This approach would reduce accessibility and cost barriers, inconveniences such as long clinic sessions and frequent in-person visits, as well as the risk of having bad trips or other adverse physical reactions. Furthermore, there is likely a large patient population that would be averse to the use psychedelics in their current form to treat their health needs. 

Addressing the above-noted roadblocks are what drove MagicMed to take a different approach to develop the next generation of psychedelics derivatives. Their approach recognizes that an ideal therapeutic should not need an “off switch” and treatment accessibility needs to be improved. MagicMed works to enhance drugs by chemically altering the structure of the psychedelics themselves. In doing so, they’re able to maintain the beneficial elements while removing negative ones. In creating better therapeutics, the issues associated with existing classic psychedelics will be aloof. It is unclear if these improved drugs will or will not cause hallucinations but MagicMed’s PsybraryTM is agnostic. As research and development progress, better treatment alternatives will be available for patients who struggle to find treatment solutions.  

MagicMed is leading “Psychedelics 2.0”. They’re shifting solutions towards patient-friendly therapeutics via chemical modification of classic psychedelics. MagicMed brings the potential for the identification and development of mental illness treatments that will be more targeted, have fewer side effects, and ultimately will lead to preventative and restorative pharmacological solutions rather than reactive ones.

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