COMPASS Pathways is a startup life science company focusing on the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin. The company was founded in London, UK in 2016 by Ekaterina Malievskaia, George Goldsmith, and Lars Christian Wilde. The company’s founding seed investors are Apeiron Investment Group, Theil Capital, and Galaxy Investment Partners. COMPASS is “dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health.”
Sharing Information is Critical
COMPASS Pathways grew out of the personal experiences of founders George Goldsmith and Ekaterina Malievskaia. Several years ago, both had family members suffering from depression and having significant difficulty finding help. They also met other people who were struggling with treatments that weren’t working and/or had severe side effects. All the people felt hopeless and helpless to treat their condition. These challenges drive COMPASS to improve mental health care for all people.
COMPASS believes that collaboration and access to solid, ethical, scientific data (positive and negative) is key to moving psilocybin therapies from basic research to clinical trials. The goal is getting effective and safe treatment options to the patients that need them as quickly as possible. COMPASS says they plan to explore other substances and innovative treatments but are currently focusing on depressed patients and their significant unmet medical needs.
Groundbreaking Psilocybin Research
The 16-week Healthy Volunteer study was started by COMPASS in July 2018 in conjunction with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. It is titled “Effects of psilocybin on cognition and emotional processing.” Ninety healthy people ages 18 to 65 years will be randomized and receive placebo, 10 mg, or 25 mg of psilocybin. The researchers will study the effects of psilocybin on executive function, cognitive and emotional empathy, memory, attention, and cognitive flexibility. The study will also serve as a collaborative opportunity for researchers, clinicians, and therapists from around the world. They will work side-by-side supporting psilocybin therapy sessions. The results of the study should be available in early 2019.
Recently, COMPASS finished manufacturing 20,000 doses (25 mg each) of synthetic psilocybin for clinical trials. The psilocybin is available free of charge from COMPASS through the Medicine Chest program for members of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP).
In August 2018, COMPASS received FDA approval for a clinical trial using psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The trials have already received approval in the UK, the Netherlands, and Canada. This is a phase IIb dose-ranging study with 216 patients designed to determine the best dosage for treating TRD. Interestingly, study subjects with be receiving measured doses of synthetic psilocybin instead of just eating the mushrooms. This is an important first step toward creating psilocybin formulations, opening the door to more of its therapeutic benefits. If successful, phase III studies will follow to compare the optimal dose to placebo or standard of care. The trials will begin in the UK at the end of August.