By David Connell, Ketamine News
Thursday, March 17, 2022
John Hopkins University has always been a leader in the research and development of novel new psychotherapy treatments. Now their prestigious Center of Psychedelics and Consciousness Research will be at the forefront of research into the possible use of the classical psychedelic compound Psilocybin to treat depression.
Psilocybin, for those unfamiliar with the drug, is a chemical found in the Psilocybe family of mushrooms (aka magic mushrooms). While not psychoactive on its psilocybin is the precursor to psilocin, the psychoactive drug responsible for inducing altered states of consciousness in those that consume it.
While psilocybin has been well known and used in Native American cultures for millennia as a sacred and spiritual medicine, its use in the 1960s by the counter culture movement saw it outlawed under the Nixon administration in 1970 as part of the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Along with other classic psychedelics like LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), DMT (dimethyltryptamine), Peyote, and later MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine).
The ban effectively halted research into several of these drugs, which Psychiatrists of the time saw as breakthrough treatments for various mental health conditions. Until its passage, disorders like post-partum depression, bipolar disorder, and treatment-resistant depression had seen a significant quantity of experimental treatment using both LSD and psilocybin.
John Hopkins Receives $4 Million in Federal Grants to Research Psychedelic-Medicine.
Fortunately for researchers at John Hopkins and across the nation, it seems that the Federal Government is slowly beginning to shift its stance on at least a few of these compounds. By awarding $4 million in funding to John Hopkins, the fed takes its first tentative steps towards what researchers hope will be the eventual rescheduling and legalization of certain psychedelic compounds for therapeutic use.
The historical importance of this grant is monumental,” says principal investigator Matthew Johnson, Ph.D., Susan Hill Ward Professor in Psychedelics and Consciousness in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Dr. Matthew Johnson of John Hopkins University School of Medicine believes that this shift was bound to happen. A growing body of research accumulated over the last 20 years has repeatedly shown that psilocybin and, thus, psilocin is incredibly safe and has significant potential for treating conditions such as depression and end-of-life anxiety, PTSD, and addiction.
Findings from research conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the National Institutes of Health, The Imperial College of London, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies support these studies.
Although John Hopkins Center of Psychedelics and Consciousness Research is the first organization to receive a federal grant for psychedelics research in 20 years, many other organizations continue to add new studies to a growing roster of work indicating psychedelics could provide novel treatments for psychological issues.
MAPS, for example, is entering Phase 3 Clinical trials for the treatment of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In 2018 Compass Pathways, NASDAQ: CMPS, received an FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation for their use of psilocybin therapy to combat treatment-resistant depression. They are currently in Phase 2b of their clinical trials. Other companies like Revitalist, CSE: CALM now offer ketamine infusions and injections paired with therapy to treat depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and others.
With the dizzying number of companies entering the psychedelic-medicine front, it is no wonder that experts like MAPS founder Rick Doblin believe that FDA approval and legalization of drugs like MDMA and Psilocybin will happen in the next several years.
David Connell is a U.S. Air Force Veteran writer and author of Cooking with Magic: The Psilocybin Cookbook. David holds a B.A. in Communications and Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Connect with him about drug policy reform, his thoughts on research in novel psychedelic therapies, creative writing, and his unabashed love for Science Fiction on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Gabay, M. (2013, June). The Federal Controlled Substances Act: Schedules and Pharmacy Registration. Hospital pharmacy. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3839489/.
Johns Hopkins Medicine receives first federal grant for psychedelic treatment research in 50 Years. Johns Hopkins Medicine Newsroom. (2021, October 18). Retrieved Nov 8, 2021, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/johns-hopkins-medicine-receives-first-federal-grant-for-psychedelic-treatment-research-in-50-years.
Phase 3 program: MDMA-Assisted therapy for PTSD. MAPS. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://maps.org/research/mdma/ptsd/phase3.
Robhern. (2020, March 2). Treatment-resistant depression study: Depression clinical trials. Compass Pathways. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://compasspathways.com/our-research/psilocybin-therapy/clinical-trials/treatment-resistant-depression/.