Psilocybin demonstrated preliminary efficacy for alcohol use disorder in a recent randomized clinical trial. The mechanism may lie in its interaction with glutamate receptors in the reward pathway of the brain.
Dr. Alex Kwan shares his insight on the field of preclinical psychedelic research and where he thinks things are headed in the future - in his lab, in drug discovery, and beyond.
Entactogenic drugs like MDMA and psychedelics like psilocybin may be beneficial for a range of psychiatric disorders. Though the pharmacology and subjective effects of entactogens and psychedelics differ, drugs that display qualities of both have received little attention to date.
A slew of contemporary research suggests MDMA’s efficacy as an adjunct in the treatment of PTSD, while little is known concerning the mechanisms at work. Recent investigation into the behavioral neurobiology of MDMA’s ability to facilitate the cessation of fear responses may offer a mechanistic explanation regarding its psychiatric utility.
MDMA-assisted therapy has been on the forefront of psychedelic research for years, but more recently patient safety concerns and research ethics have come into question.
The potential use of serotonergic psychedelic drugs has yet to be explored for treatment of multimodal health issues such as obesity. A new preclinical study aims to explore the effects of psilocybin in rodent food consumption and weight gain.
Prior studies in clinical populations with OCD as well as animal models of this disorder indicate that psilocybin may suppress compulsive behavior. Although efforts to identify the mechanism of psilocybin’s effects are underway, the pharmacological targets underlying its anti-compulsive potential remain elusive.
Allosteric modulation is a promising way to target the receptors of psychoactive substances, such as CB1R, for therapeutic use. However, it is difficult to design safe, effective allosteric compounds. New high-resolution structures of CB1R provide insight into a way forward for drug discovery.
By engineering E. coli to produce norbaeocystin, researchers seek to settle whether this precursor to psilocybin is itself psychedelic.
The potential neurotoxicity of MDMA led to the development of APBs, a family of entactogens whose effect profiles may position them as attractive candidates for the next generation of entactogenic medicines.