The medical community has always had keen interest in psychedelics, such as LSD, for their anti-inflammatory properties. However, the stigma associated with these substances, together with the prohibitive laws in force, have made the therapeutic exploitation of psychedelics a difficult undertaking. The recent interest directed towards psychedelics has allowed Eleusis Ltd., a psychedelics company, to investigate the different psychedelics in order to find out which ones have potent anti-inflammatory attributes.
The researchers employed by the company looked at about 21 psychedelics which target a specific serotonin receptor (5-HT2A). When this receptor is activated, anti-inflammatory effects are observed in asthmatics.
The researchers found that a group of psychedelics called 2C-H had the ability to regulate inflammation without triggering the behavioral effects linked to the intake of psychedelics like LSD.
To understand how the psychedelics work, the Eleusis research team created a rat model instead of using mice as is the norm in the research community. This change was motivated by the realization that mice have the ability to metabolize psychedelics so fast that it becomes difficult to study the anti-inflammatory effects of the substance administered. Rats were chosen because they have a slower rate of metabolizing psychedelics.
The research team found that there was no correlation between how potent a psychedelic is and its anti-inflammatory properties. For example, LSD is a potent psychedelic, but it didn’t exhibit strong anti-inflammatory abilities in the asthmatic rats despite triggering the behavioral attributes which show that someone is under the influence of the substance.
The team concluded that the cellular systems responsible for the behavioral effects of psychedelics are different from those which trigger anti-inflammatory effects.
Eleusis isn’t the only entity studying psychedelics. Johns Hopkins University for instance secured $17m last year to set up a psychedelics research center to investigate these substances’ effects on the brain, mood and learning, and memory. The team at the Johns Hopkins center are also doing research on whether psilocybin can be used to treat Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.
Eleusis decided to begin by developing ocular drugs to target the serotonin receptor. This method of administering drugs through the eyes is a desirable one because it allows the patient to get the therapeutic effects of the psychedelic drug without having to experience the behavioral effects that accompany that drug. The company plans to develop additional drugs in the coming future to combat the inflammatory tendencies triggered by other diseases. All that will depend on how the clinical phase of this project pans out.
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