Monday, December 16, 2019

1st US psychedelic research center founded

First US Center for Psychedelic Research a 'Game Changer' - Megan Brooks, Medscape:

December 2, 2019 - "A group of private benefactors has donated $17 million to fund the first psychedelic research center in the United States.

"The Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, 'reflects a new era of research in therapeutics and the mind through studying this unique and remarkable class of pharmacological compounds," 'Roland Griffiths, PhD, the center's director, said in a statement. 'We've been conducting research with psychedelics at Johns Hopkins for almost the last 20 years, but funding has not been forthcoming from federal sources as yet so the work has primarily been supported by philanthropy,' ... and this 'very large philanthropic gift has allowed the establishment of the first center for psychedelic research in the United States,' said Griffiths.

"The center's operational expenses for the first 5 years will be covered by private funding from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation and four philanthropists, including author and investor Tim Ferriss; Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress; Blake Mycoskie, founder of the shoe brand TOMS; and investor Craig Nerenberg.

"The funding will support a team of six faculty neuroscientists, experimental psychologists, and clinicians with expertise in psychedelic science, as well as five postdoctoral scientists. The faculty will train graduate and medical students who want to pursue careers in psychedelic science, where historically there have been few avenues for career advancement.

"Initial priority projects include researching the potential of psilocybin as a therapy for anorexia nervosa, early stage Alzheimer's disease, opioid use disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), posttreatment Lyme disease, and alcohol use disorder comorbid with depression. Based on research to date, the nature of the changes that occur during a psilocybin session would appear to have 'transdiagnostic generality' across a range of mental health and behavioral conditions, Griffiths said.

"He added that there are 'very strong preliminary signals' that psilocybin is an effective treatment for cancer patients who are anxious or depressed. 'We also have promising efficacy data in people with major depression as well as treatment-resistant depression; and we have indication of potential efficacy across a range of substance use disorders, including alcohol and cocaine abuse and cigarette smoking,' he said....

"For patients with depression secondary to a diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease, Griffiths said his team 'strongly suspects' psilocybin will be effective at least for the mood disorder 'but, of course, the really interesting thing would be whether there is any change in cognitive function.' 'The emerging data with psilocybin and other psychedelics is that they may produce neuroplastic changes, they may end up rewiring the brain in ways we simply don't understand,' Griffiths added."

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