Under a new license, CSIRO will work with local medtech companies to improve existing psychedelic products and develop new ones.
With many psychedelics already known, both natural and synthetic, CSIRO says it’s now in a position to work with local biomedical companies to extract, synthesise, improve and then develop manufacturing processes for up to 15 different psychedelic compounds.
Psychedelics such as methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or psilocybin (derived from certain species of mushrooms), are currently being tested by researchers in Australia and internationally, in strictly controlled clinical settings, to see if they could be an effective treatment alongside psychotherapy for mental health related illnesses. Results have been very promising.
A solution to a wicked problem?
In Australia, it’s estimated that one in every five people will suffer a mental illness each year, with some research suggesting more than a third of sufferers may not respond to existing treatments.
‘CSIRO is well-placed to contribute to this emerging area of research, which could lead to life-changing advancements in mental health,’ said CSIRO scientist Adjunct Professor Peter Duggan.
He said clinical trials around the world have been using known psychedelics with impressive results, but there’s still much to be learnt about how these drugs work and how improvements to their chemical composition could enhance patient outcomes.
‘By working with local industry to improve drug design and the patient experience, CSIRO can push Australia into a leadership position in the development of these potentially life-changing medications,’ said Adjunct Professor Peter Duggan.
One of the first companies to work with CSIRO in this field is Melbourne-based Natural MedTech who gained R&D funding through CSIRO’s Kick-Start program and are looking to further explore the psychoactive properties of plants and fungi for medical use.
‘Natural MedTech is working to develop psychedelic treatments for several unmet neurological disorders,’ said Natural MedTech CEO Mark Hestermann.
‘Working with CSIRO enables us to work with some of Australia’s leading scientists and access state-of-the art facilities to meet Natural MedTech’s unique requirements.
‘CSIRO’s scheduled poisons license extension will mean that they can legally make the raw material we need to further our research and development of psychedelic molecules with a view to progress new drugs to clinical trials,’ said Mr Hestermann.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s public consultation window on these substances is about to close.
The charity Mind Medicine Australia is urging anyone who is interested to take five minutes to show their support for rescheduling the medicinal use of psilocybin and MDMA as part of psychotherapy for the treatment of mental illness at this link.
The deadline for submissions is the end of this week.