Scientists Design Trip-Free Psychedelic Treatments That Could Accelerate Mental-Health Research

Researchers have developed a potentially “trip-free” psychedelic that could accelerate research efforts to develop psychedelic-based treatments for mental health. The research focused on a critical part of taking hallucinogens — the psychedelic experience — and whether psychedelics can still be effective at treating mental-health conditions if the psychedelic experience, or “trip,” is eliminated.

Prior research has found that these experiences can be instrumental in helping patients confront painful, uncomfortable memories, and help them gain life-changing insights and realizations.

The “therapy” part of psychedelic-assisted therapy is designed to help people explore the feelings they experienced while under the influence of a psychedelic and apply these insights to their lives. However, psychedelic-assisted therapy often requires one or more trained therapists to be present because the psychedelic experience can last several hours. This significantly increases the costs associated with psychedelic-assisted therapy and limits the number of trained professionals who are available to other patients. Furthermore, many patients aren’t interested in a treatment that involves several hours of “tripping,” regardless of how effective it may be.

Psychedelics also often result in bad trips and can cause negative emotions, including confusion and anxiety, that make the treatment even less desirable to some patients. Consequently, many researchers have been on a quest to develop trip-free psychedelics that would allow patients to derive their mental-health benefits without the need to experience mind-bending effects for several hours.

A nonhallucinogenic psychedelic treatment could significantly reduce treatment time and costs, making the treatment available to a wider market of Americans who desperately need mental health care. Eliminating the trip part of the treatment would also allow treatment centers to handle more patients who don’t require clinical supervision from trained mental-health professionals during the course of treatment.

Although some research has found that the hallucinatory effects of classical psychedelics contribute to their medical efficacy, recent preclinical work has suggested that researchers could potentially disentangle hallucinogens such as magic mushrooms from their therapeutic properties. However, we still don’t have data on how psychedelics interact with signaling pathways and receptors to fully replicate their effects in “trip-free” psychedelics.

Researchers used mouse models to try and understand the signaling pathways psychedelic molecules take once they are consumed. Their findings pointed to the potential development of a nonhallucinogenic psychedelic treatment with the same medical benefits as regular psychedelics.

With millions of Americans failing to find relief from regular mental-health treatments, such a treatment could help to improve the quality of life of countless Americans across the country.

As more companies such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) undertake psychedelic drug -development programs, mechanisms may become available for mass access to these novel treatments.

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