Even as efforts by COMPASS Pathways, Usona Institute and others move therapies that use psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, closer to FDA approval, legal alternatives to psilocybin are being developed and patented for medical use.
Canadian drug discovery and development company Mindset Pharma recently announced preliminary screening results of its novel patent-pending, psilocybin-inspired compounds. It was reported that Mindset’s synthesized psilocybin-inspired compounds acted on the 5HT-2A receptors and other serotonin receptors “just as strongly” as psilocin, the active metabolite of psilocybin, and that certain compounds demonstrated “a several-fold increase in efficacy and potency compared to psilocin.”
“Mindset’s new chemical entities were broadly based on the chemical structure of psilocybin, however, they are materially different enough that they would not be considered analogs,” says Jason Atkinson, Mindset’s Vice President of Corporate Development. “Because of their structural similarity, we expect that they will act similarly in the brain and specifically at the 5HT-2A receptor.”
Mindset aims to develop next-generation psychedelic compounds that are pharmacologically optimized to treat neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to Atkinson, the benefit of developing synthetic alternatives to naturally occurring psychedelic compounds lies in the fact that the compounds being developed “have been pharmacologically optimized to help address some of the known shortfalls of psilocybin, specifically minimizing the vast array of unhelpful metabolites.”
It has been thought by some that psilocybin mushrooms contain metabolites that produce cardiotoxic effects, potentially causing acute damage to the heart muscle when consumed over long periods of time. In their efforts to “optimize” psilocybin, Mindset is addressing its potential cardiotoxicity as well as attempting to produce a more uniform, consistent effect for more people by creating molecules with fewer metabolites.
Mindset is one of a number of companies creating novel psychedelic-inspired mental health treatments, including Mind Medicine, Inc., EntheogeniX Biosciences, and even efforts supported by the US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).
Mindset’s goal is to create compounds that are able to “achieve equal or greater psychedelic effects and therapeutic benefits” than traditional psilocybin. “We certainly are big believers that psilocybin is going to be a game-changer for mental health,” comments Atkinson. “However, psilocybin has not had the benefit of decades of advancements in drug design and optimization applied to it yet.”
Mindset believes that it is a natural path in drug development to find second- and even third-generation drugs that help treat neurological and psychiatric disorders more effectively as shortfalls in the initial compound are solved. “Mindset’s goal with our novel compounds is to be able to create a more stable, consistent experience for the greatest population group as possible while minimizing any negative side effects like cardiotoxicity,” says Atkinson.
At present, the research detailing the testing results of Mindset’s novel compounds is not publicly available due to the proprietary status of the compounds. “It will be made public once the patent is granted and then everyone will be able to see the amazing results that these compounds have been demonstrating,” says Atkinson.