UC San Diego Researchers to Test Psychedelics Potential in Treating Amputees

March 10, 2021 14:18:50

The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation recently gave a $1.3 million grant to UC San Diego’s Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative. The grant will be used to finance a clinical trial evaluating the therapeutic potential of psilocybin in managing phantom limb pain.

Psilocybin is the active psychedelic compound found in many fungus species, including magic mushrooms. On the other hand, phantom limb pain refers to painful sensations that originate from the part of an individual’s limb that is no longer present, such as an amputated leg.

This grant will finance the first placebo-controlled randomized human clinical trial, which will be examining the effectiveness and safety of psilocybin in patients who suffer from chronic phantom limb pain. The study has also been designed to look into the brain mechanisms involved when patients are on psychedelics.

The study is a part of the Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative whose objective is to study psilocybin and other psychedelics compounds’ potential in encouraging healing and helping manage pain.

Dr. Timothy Furnish, the trial’s co-principal investigator who also happens to be a UC San Diego School of Medicine professor of anesthesiology, stated that psilocybin’s therapeutic potential was unique when compared to other analgesics. He explained that while a majority of analgesics were administered almost daily to help manage chronic pain symptoms, they did not help modify the underlying pathology.

On the other hand, he continued, psilocybin possessed the potential to re-adjust modified cortical brain circuits that are linked to some chronic pain disorders. This readjustment, he said, could produce a drug that works for an extended period of time — for days or weeks at a time — and could possibly even lead to a cure.

Psychedelic Research at UC San Diego started in the 1970s, with research on the neurobiological and behavioral effects of psychedelics. The professor-emeritus behind this study, Professor Mark Geyer of the psychiatry and neurosciences, is also the co-founder of the university’s Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative (“PHRI”).

The PHRI originated from a Jacobs School of Engineering and Qualcomm Institute research scientist known as Albert Yu-Min Lin in 2016. Lin was involved in an off-road vehicle accident that left him without his lower right leg.

While in rehabilitation and recovery, Lin experienced severe and recurrent phantom limb pain, which led him to try psilocybin as a means to relieve the pain. Lin revealed that in 45 minutes of trying the psychedelic, he felt relief, adding that while he still experiences a sharp pain on occasion, the pain is mostly gone.

Thirty amputees who suffer from phantom pain will take part in the clinical trial, with half of them receiving two niacin doses, which has been chosen as the placebo, and the remaining half receiving 25 mg of psilocybin, administeredtwice. The trial will also include several clinical visits to evaluate psychological functioning and pain.

Interest in psychedelics extends beyond academia as plenty of for-profit companies are also venturing into this industry. XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT), for example, is focused on developing transdermal and sublingual psychedelic drugs that can help in the treatment of mental health conditions.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/XPHYF

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