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Trial Shows LSD Treatment Reduces Anxiety Symptoms

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(Victoria Borodinova, Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/cover-your-face-with-your-hands-hide-6599123/)

9 Sept. 2022. A clinical trial shows a medication made with lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD, given in a supervised clinical setting, helps reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. Findings from the trial, conducted among individuals in Switzerland with generalized anxiety disorder, appeared last week in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

The clinical trial assessed an experimental compound with the chemical ingredients of LSD, formulated into capsules, made by Mind Medicine Inc. or MindMed in New York. MindMed is a three year-old biopharmaceutical enterprise developing treatments for addiction and mental health conditions derived from psychedelic compounds normally controlled or restricted for recreational use. The company’s pipeline includes treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD in adults, opioid withdrawal, autism spectrum disorder, and in this case generalized anxiety disorder.

MindMed says its therapies are designed to be given in supervised settings by clinicians, who monitor patients’ dosing and reactions. In July 2021, Science & Enterprise reported on a MindMed clinical study of the psychedelic compound dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, derived from vines and leaves in plants found in South America and used by indigenous peoples for centuries.

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent worry about multiple areas of life, often well out of proportion to their impact on individuals or families. Normal situations and events are viewed as threatening, and uncertainties are magnified, which result in unreasonable fear and inaction. Physical symptoms are often fatigue, muscle tension, sleeplessness, tremblings, and sweating, accompanied by inability to concentrate and increased irritability.

Lower anxiety and depression scores

The mid-stage clinical trial tested MindMed’s experimental drug code-named MM-120 derived from LSD. Participants in the trial were enrolled from adult patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder or GAD at University Hospital Basel in Switzerland. Matthias Liechti, a pharmacologist and clinician at University Hospital led the study with Peter Gasser, a psychiatrist in private practice in Switzerland, whose patients also took part in the study. MindMed has an ongoing research collaboration with University Hospital Basel, and Liechti and Gasser are advisors to the company.

The 42 participants in the trial were randomly assigned to receive a single dose of up to 200 milligrams of MM-120 or a placebo by their clinicians, then monitored for 16 weeks. After that time, participants were given the alternative treatment, MM-120 or placebo, to their original assigned drug, and tracked for another 16 weeks. The study team assessed participants’ mental health with a series of standard rating scales for anxiety and depression symptoms at 2, 8, and 16 weeks after administration of the drug, and monitored the individuals for the next year.

The researchers report after 16 weeks recipients of MM-120 score lower on the anxiety and depression rating scales, compared to the start of the study, than their counterparts receiving a placebo, with differences large enough for statistical reliability. While under supervision, participants report expected psychedelic effects of LSD, including mystical experiences. Of the 42 participants, however, eight individuals (19%) report temporary unexpected or unwanted effects, with one of those adverse effects rated as serious.

MindMed says the trial is continuing with plans to enroll 200 participants. “Acute administration of LSD produced long-lasting and notable reductions of anxiety and comorbid depression symptoms for up to 16 weeks,” says CEO Robert Barrow in a company statement. “These results are encouraging and supportive of our proprietary MM-120 product candidate in its potential to one day offer a therapeutic benefit for patients suffering from GAD after just a single-dose administration.”

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