Chinese Scientists Invented Non-Hallucinogenic Drug Like LSD and Psilocybin With Antidepressive Effects

It’s hard to imagine even a decade ago mainstream scientists would prescribe hallucinogens to help treat mood disorders like depression. But after incremental gains at the state and local levels, 2022 is the year treatments like ketamine therapy are introduced. ready to become mainstream.

However, the biggest obstacle to the normalization of these drugs for psychiatric care is that they send patients down a neurological rabbit hole. That’s the whole point for many casual users, but not necessarily an ideal solution for those who want to feel better but are also worried about their ability to work and do errands.

The answer may be hallucinations without all hallucinations.

In one research published Thursday in the magazine Science, a team of scientists from China have designed a new drug that they say works similarly to LSD and psilocybin, but doesn’t lead to hallucinations. In tests on rats, the drug produced an antidepressant effect without hallucinogens.

“Psychedelics have previously shown potential therapeutic effects in previous clinical trials,” Sheng Wang, a biochemist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and lead author of the new study, told The New York Times. Daily Beast. “The psychedelic effect certainly limits their usability. But now, non-psychedelic drugs can solve this problem.”

The new discovery is based on the 5HT2A receptor, a biochemical pathway for serotonin in animals. Previous research has found it to be an extremely useful target for treating conditions such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety. But most drugs that target 5HT2A, like LSD and psilocybin, often lead to hallucinations that many non-recreational people may want to avoid.

During their investigation, Wang and his team found that the structure of 5HT2A has distinct binding ves others only stick to a few and have no hallucinogenic effects.

Psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in “magic mushrooms” has an active metabolite called psilobin that will not cause hallucinations on its own. Wang and his team studied psilobin to develop a new drug, IHCH-7113.


The researchers wanted a drug that could bind with 5HT2A to lead to antidepressant effects, but not hallucinogens. Their design to fit that bill, called IHCH-7113 and based in part on research into the active metabolite in psilocybin, was tested in mice. They found that the rats given the drug did not have the classic signs of animal hallucinations, such as head jerking.

The rats in the study were also made to experience depression caused by stress and corticosterone. People who received the IHCH-7113 injection completed physical tests more effectively than those who did not – an indication of the drug’s antidepressant effects.

John Krystal, a psychiatry researcher at Yale-New Haven Hospital, first discovered Antidepressant effects of ketamine, told The Daily Beast that he sees the study as a “great addition” to the field of research in psychedelic therapies. It adds weight to the hypothesis that hallucinations are not a necessary part of why people using these drugs may find their depression increased — and the findings should prompt spur continued efforts to turn hallucinogens into non-psychotic antidepressants.

However, Krystal cautions that we should treat the results with caution because “solid evidence of the absence of hallucinations will need to come from human studies” and the antidepressant effects of IHCH- 7113 for rodents will not necessarily be the same in humans.

Todd Gould, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, echoed these views. He told The Daily Beast: “Clinical studies in humans on the antidepressant effects of psilocybin have yet to be demonstrated. “We may be going ahead to study the antidepressant mechanism in mice before there is evidence of efficacy in humans.”

Still, Gould thinks “if psilocybin and other hallucinogens become antidepressants… that would be a big step forward.”

Wang and his team are still conducting preclinical trials, but they hope to be able to put IHCH-7113 into human trials soon. Whether they can come up with a clever name for the drug with at least some of the common appeal of substances like magic mushrooms remains to be seen.

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