This Week in Psychedelics

House hosts historic hearing on psychedelics; Massachusetts activists and governor push for legislation; Awkn Life Sciences update.

November 17, 2023

This Week...

The governor of Massachusetts filed a bill to create a psychedelics working group to study and make recommendations about the potential therapeutic benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA for military veterans.

Weeks after activists turned in enough signatures to force Massachusetts lawmakers to consider a psychedelics legalization measure, Gov. Maura Healey introduced large-scale legislation focused on veterans that includes a section on psychedelic-assisted therapy.

The governor’s proposal wouldn’t immediately create a framework for legal access, but it would require the Executive Office of Veterans’ Services (EOVS) to convene a working group to study “alternative therapies for mental health treatments for veterans” and explore “whether psychedelic therapy is associated with improved outcomes among veterans with diagnosed mental health disorders.” Check it out:

House lawmakers met for a first ever congressional hearing on psychedelics, with lawmakers and witnesses focusing on how substances like psilocybin and MDMA can aid therapy for military veterans’ facing mental health challenges.

VA representatives expressed optimism about the prospects of future federal approval of certain psychedelics, while lawmakers emphasized that it is an issue that has uniquely generated bipartisan support amid a rapidly evolving policy landscape. Here’s more:

Awakn Life Sciences Corp., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing therapeutics to treat addiction with a near-term focus on Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), announced that it received two clinical trial authorizations – one from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and another from the Health Research Authority in the UK – for a phase III clinical trial of AWKN-P0001, a program for the treatment of Severe Alcohol Use Disorder (SAUD).

AWKN-P001 is a novel combined therapeutic of a N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-modulating drug (ketamine) used in combination with psycho-social support to treat SAUD. Results from AWKN-P001 phase II study were very positive, achieving 86% abstinence in the 6 months post treatments vs. 2% abstinence pre-trial, and 25% abstinence in current standard of care. Check it out:

Did You Know?

Did you know that researchers at Duke University are now using zebrafish to see how psychedelics impact the body, not just the mind?

Because of their small size and translucent body, the zebrafish larvae are proving to be useful models for observation.

Neurobiology doctoral student Minel Arinel said this about the research…

We can use the larval zebrafish as a model to understand neural circuits across the entire brain. Being able to look at an entire organism and how it changes all the bodily functions like heartbeat, gut motility and all of that… that’s really valuable.

Absolutely fascinating! Here’s more: