Could psilocybin help alleviate the mental health burden of clinicians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? That’s the question University of Washington researchers want to tackle in a new clinical trial, testing a hallucinogenic drug combined with psychotherapy.
The UW doctor said the trial could start within a month. Anthony is back!, co-director of the University’s Center for Palliative Care Excellence, who is leading the trial.
Back, who also wrote a tutorial on COVID-19 communication skills for clinicians, including self-care.
“There is just so much grief to see all these people die in front of them, who died in a very uncomfortable way physically. In an interview with GeekWire, there was a lot of emotional trauma that they didn’t do enough. “Many of them feel really bad that people’s families can’t be with them because of the COVID isolation procedures.”
On top of that, some patients are difficult or hostile. “Patients who scream at you and say you are lying to them, COVID is a lie,” says Back. “I have spoken to a number of clinicians whose patients in the hospital spit up because they were so angry. And there are a few people who have had a patient throw bed sheets with feces at them. “
And while there are some trials underway using psilocybin to treat depression, healthcare professionals are up against something more complicated. Other symptoms include post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and burnout.
“In a way, it’s bigger than depression. Back said.
To Back’s knowledge, this trial is the first to test for psilocybin in healthcare workers. The study will enroll 30 clinicians with depression, anxiety, and a state known as existential distress. The trial will also involve a psychotherapy component, in a treatment series developed in partnership with Toronto-based psychedelics. Cybin, one of the sponsors of the trial.
After two psychotherapy sessions, 15 of the participants would be treated with one dose of psilocybin, and 15 with a placebo, followed by three subsequent “integration” sessions.
Four weeks after psilocybin administration, the participants would be assessed primarily for anxiety and depression, but also potentially for existential anxiety, burnout, post-traumatic stress, and other states. The participants would then be unbound and the drug would be offered on an open-label basis to patients in the placebo group.
“The hallucinations make your brain recover. So thought patterns, rumination cycles spinning in your head, hallucinations break that and give people a chance to see what it would be like without that,” Back said. People can then better understand the experience and ask, “how do I move into the future?”
A similar approach is behind an increasing number Clinical trials examine psilocybin in conditions ranging from migraines to opioid use disorders. The biggest trial to test a drug for depression, run by UK-based Compass Pathways, has yielded results. mixed results in the early phase 2b data released in November. Those at the highest dose had less depression compared with those at the very low, controlled dose – but they also had higher rates of suicidal behavior and variables. other higher disadvantage.
Compass is planning a larger trial that can assess whether the effect on depression is maintained and whether the side effects in the smaller trial were a fluke. or not. Compass raised 127 million dollars in a public offering last fall, part of a growing wave of investments in the region. In the first four months of 2021, psychedelic startups grossed 329 million dollars in venture funding.
The University of Washington trial recently cleared its final regulatory hurdle, earning a nod from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in a letter approving a new drug application. investigative, according to Cybin declare this week. The new trial will inform another trial Cybin is planning on a modified form of psilocybin that may have different effects.
Woodinville, based in Wash. CaaMTech is another company that researches new psychedelics. Recent CaaMTech raised $22 million and in november Announce a partnership with the University of Wyoming to test its compounds on laboratory animals.
Back said neither Back nor the University of Washington have any financial relationship with Cybin or any other psychedelic company other than to support testing. Other funders of the trial are the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation, and the RiverStyx Foundation.