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Psychedelic Therapy Company Raises $80M in New Funds

Psilocybe aztecorum

Psilocybe aztecorum, also known as “magic muchrooms,” the source of psilocybin (Alan Rockefeller, Wikimedia Commons)

17 Aug. 2021. A developer of drugs from psychedelic compounds for mental health conditions is raising $80 million in its second venture funding round. Beckley Psytech Ltd. in Oxford, U.K. is a spin-off biotechnology enterprise from the Beckley Foundation, a philanthropic organization advocating for research in psychedelic substances for treating mental health disorders and public policy changes to improve access for patients who can benefit from these therapies.

Beckley Psytech, founded in 2019, creates therapies for pain and depression from well-known psychedelic compounds, such as psilocybin, as well as less studied and new types of psycho-active compounds designed to improve on current psychedelic treatments. Psilocybin is an hallucinogenic compound found in so-called magic mushrooms, and considered a controlled substance under drug laws in the U.S. While psilocybin is not naturally addictive, it is used as a recreational drug to generate feelings of euphoria and sensory distortion.

The company is developing an testing psilocybin for a condition called SUNHA, for short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks, marked by brief, severe, and repeated headache episodes. SUNHA is a rare condition, affecting some 45,000 individuals in the U.S. and Europe, according to the company.

Bufo alvarius toad venom

In May, Beckley Psytech began an early-stage clinical trial of its psilocybin therapy for SUNHA at Kings College London. The trial is enrolling 12 participants diagnosed with chronic SUNHA looking signs of adverse effects from dried psilocybin given in capsules, but also changes in frequency, duration, and intensity of headaches. The study team is also assessing changes in cognition, memory, and reaction times.

In addition, Beckley Psytech is developing an inhaled therapy for depression with 5-MeO-DMT, a compound derived from venom of the Bufo alvarius toad. 5-MeO-DMT, short for 5-Methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, is also an hallucinogenic substance and considered a possible treatment for mood disorders. The company is planning an early-stage study to determine optimum dosage of 5-MeO-DMT, followed by a mid-stage trial in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Beckley Psytech’s second venture round is raising £58 million ($US 80 million) led by health care venture investor in New York. Joining the round are new investors Prime Movers Labs, Adage Capital Management LP, Palo Santo, Delphi VC, Leafy Tunnel, and Negev Capital, and current investor Bicycle Day Ventures. The company says it originally planned to raise $50 million, but the round drew more participants than anticipated. According to Crunchbase, Beckley Psytech raised $34.2 million in earlier financing.

“My life’s passion has been to unlock the therapeutic potential of psychedelics,” says Beckley Psytech’s CEO Cosmo Feilding Mellen in a company statement, “as I believe these compounds could help millions of people around the world.” Mellen adds, “As we embark on our next phase of growth, our strong syndicate of expert investors will support us in bringing much-needed innovative treatments to patients suffering from neurological and psychiatric conditions.”

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