Recent advancements in psychedelic research have revealed that hallucinogenic drugs, such as psilocybin and LSD, may have potent therapeutic properties. Studies into the effects of psychedelics on mental health have found that they can treat the symptoms of various mental disorders with minimal side effects. When combined with psychotherapy, psychedelics have been found to deliver profound and long-term benefits to users at minimal doses.
Lawmakers in several states are currently working on legislation to expand psychedelic research and allow the general public to access psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. However, before psychedelic therapies can hit the market in masses, researchers will have to find ways to standardize the effects of hallucinogenic drugs and ensure that patients have standard and optimal experiences.
Vancouver-based HaluGen Life Sciences has tackled this problem by developing a DNA testing kit that could change how physicians prescribe psychedelic therapies. Such a technology would be able to reasonably predict how patients would react to given psychedelics by analyzing their genetics.
Since 2021, HaluGen has been releasing genetic testing kits meant to guide the prescription of psychedelic drugs by predicting patients’ reactions to hallucinogens such as ayahuasca, MDMA, psilocybin, LSD and ketamine. The company’s testing kits are meant to guide clinicians during the prescription process by giving them a measure of how their patients would respond to certain psychedelics. These kits are also available to members of the general public who have never tried psychedelics before and provide them with a means of avoiding potential negative experiences.
Even though psychedelics generally tend to be psychologically safe, there are some instances where dosing yourself with a hallucinogenic can cause significant elevations in your heart rate and blood pressure. First-time users who have an underlying heart condition could suffer an adverse cardiac event if they take large doses of psychedelics. Furthermore, people with weakened kidney or liver function can have trouble processing and metabolizing psychedelic drugs.
HaluGen’s genetic testing kit uses pharmacogenetic testing to determine how different psychedelic drugs will likely react with certain genes. Clinicians can then adjust the treatment regimen to either incorporate lower psychedelic doses or shorter than usual therapy sessions.
The company analyzes five genetic variants to figure out a user’s risk of developing mental disorders such as psychosis and schizophrenia. It also looks for gene variations that may affect factors such as serotonin receptor density and ketamine metabolism during the screening process.
These kits could potentially help clinicians streamline their psychedelic prescription process, limit negative experiences and increase the odds of successful treatment.
As enterprises such as Field Trip Health Ltd. (OTC: FTHWF) (TSX: FTHW) conduct clinical development activities on psychedelics, the industry is set for explosive growth over the coming years given the rate at which positive results are being documented about the potential of these substances.
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