Bright Minds Biosciences

Bright Minds Biosciences is a Canadian biotechnology company working on “highly targeted serotonergic drugs” to treat patients with severe neurological and neuropsychiatric illnesses. 

The company was founded in 2019 by Dr. Gideon Shapiro and Dr. Alan Kozikowski (Bright Minds’ Chief Scientific Officer). 

According to its website, Bright Minds creates “new and modif[ies] existing molecules in order to reduce unwanted side effects and accentuate positive therapeutic properties.” It is currently focused on developing analogs of psilocin for oral consumption. 

“We’re trying to reinvent psilocybin…What we’re aiming for is something that’s safe enough that you can take it at night, go to bed, and wake up in the morning with a clarified brain. You’ve gotten rid of the pain, you’re no longer depressed” Kozikowski said in an Observer article by Chris Roberts.

Among Bright Minds’ specific goals is to create drugs with reduced side effects like cardiac or respiratory symptoms and faster metabolization, so acute effects last one hour rather than six or more. In an interview with Psychedelic Invest, Bright Minds’ CEO Ian McDonald explained,

The serotonin 2B receptor site, for example, is quite prominent in the heart. Activating that serotonin 2B receptor site leads to cardiac issues, so that’s one you don’t want to hit. But unfortunately for first generation drugs like psilocybin and LSD they hit the 2A receptor, which is the one you want, and the 2B receptor with equal activity so that’s a potential negative that we’re working to solve for.

Bright Minds’ pipeline presently includes three major products in various preclinical stages: a 5-HT2C targeted drug for seizures, addiction, and impulse control behaviors, a 5-HT2C/A targeted drug that aims to alleviate chronic pain including potentially cluster headache — a notoriously painful and difficult-to-treat condition — and another 5-HT2A drug for depression and PTSD. The first two have been granted patents while the third has had a patent filed, making Bright Minds “the only company in the psychedelic space that has been granted patents on serotonergic selective agents” as Dr. Kozikowski stated in a promotional video.

In 2021, Bright Minds remains focused on preclinical progress, with ambitions to begin clinical trials (starting with depression and epilepsy) by the end of the year. Dr. Kozikowski told Forbes contributor Abbie Rosner that he estimates a Bright Minds drug may hit the market after two to three years of clinical trials. 

Bright Minds made Business Insider’s list of top psychedelic companies by funding of 2021