Can psychedelics with shorter yet more intense experiences cure people with alcohol dependence?

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Psychedelic Clinical trials Research Alcohol mental health Collaboration

In an exciting collaboration, modern mental health company, Clerkenwell Health, and Beckley Psytech, a clinical-stage biotechnology company, have launched a phase 2a study aimed at investigating a potential breakthrough treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD).

The trial, already underway at King's College London, will now expand to include Clerkenwell Health's research facility near Harley Street, London.

It is focusing on evaluating the safety, tolerability, and pharmacodynamic effects of a novel psychedelic compound, BPL-003, in combination with psychological support tailored for AUD patients.

BPL-003, a synthetic formulation of mebufotenin (5-MeO-DMT), promises shorter yet intense psychedelic experiences, offering a new avenue for treatment. The trial aims to follow participants for 12 weeks post-dosing, conducting multiple assessments to gauge safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy.

Alcohol dependence

Alarming statistics underline the urgency of finding effective treatments for AUD. According to NHS figures, over 7.5 million people in the UK exhibit signs of alcohol dependence. Public Health England data further reveals the toll of alcohol-related issues, with nearly 21,000 alcohol-related deaths in England in 2021 alone and over 340,000 hospital admissions attributable to alcohol from 2021 to 2022.

Dr Henry Fisher, chief scientific officer at Clerkenwell Health​, stressed the need for innovative approaches. He said: “Conventional treatments for alcohol dependency aren't producing meaningful improvements, and new avenues must be explored.” He emphasized the potential of psychedelic-assisted treatment to address this pressing public health concern.

The trial marks a significant departure from traditional approaches to substance abuse disorder treatment. By combining psychological support with a psychedelic compound under controlled conditions, researchers aim to pioneer a new paradigm in mental health care.

Interest in psychedelics growing

As interest in psychedelic-assisted therapy grows, Clerkenwell Health​ and Beckley Psytech are aiming to continue to stand at the forefront, using modern and inventive research to redefine mental health treatment. Their collaboration represents a beacon of hope for millions affected by AUD and underscores the potential of innovative therapies to address complex mental health challenges.

Dr Rob Conley, chief medical and scientific officer at Beckley Psytech, said: “We're committed to developing a transformative and effective treatment option for individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder. Based on our preclinical and Phase I data, we are optimistic about the potential therapeutic benefits of BPL-003 for substance use disorders and we are excited to evaluate the compound further in this clinical trial.

“I want to extend my thanks to the team at Clerkenwell Health​ and King’s, as well as to the patients who have joined and will join this study. Their participation, support, and collaboration are absolutely critical to furthering research into this area of huge unmet need.” 

Clerkenwell Health specializes in modern mental health treatments, while Beckley Psytech is dedicated to transforming psychedelics into effective clinical medicines. Both entities say they are going to bring together expertise and resources to lead new approaches to mental health care, saying they want to continue offering hope for a brighter future for individuals and communities affected by neuropsychiatric disorders.

For anyone interested in signing up for a trial, click the patients page link here​. 

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