LSD "off-switch" developed by psychedelic pharmaceutical company
Psychedelic pharmaceutical company MindMed has announced the development of a novel compound designed to stop the effects of an LSD experience. The compound is claimed to function as an “off-switch” for LSD, allowing clinicians a way to make psychedelic therapy sessions safer if patients become uncomfortable.
The new announcement comes several weeks after MindMed revealed the signing of an exclusive, multi-year contract with the Liechti Lab, a psychedelic research lab headed by Matthias Liechti at the University of Basel in Switzerland.
"The innovative and original work of the Liechti Laboratory is a treasure trove of novel data on LSD,” says JR Rahn, co-CEO of MindMed. “We are just at the beginning of several significant discoveries that have the potential to further the application of psychedelics as therapeutic medicines.”
MindMed says it has filed a patent application for, “a neutralizer technology intended to shorten and stop the effects of an LSD trip during a therapy session.”
It is unclear exactly what this LSD neutralizing compound actually is. New Atlas contacted Matthias Liechti directly for clarification to ask if there were any pre-existing published research offering insights into how this proposed compound works. Liechti said the research is ongoing, and could not supply specific details.
“I can say that we have a planned program exploring the use of a range of compounds to be used to treat negative acute experiences with hallucinogens to increase their clinical safe use,” Liechti responded to New Atlas in an email. “Classically, such treatments included benzodiazepines or haloperidol. Ketanserin has so far been used to investigate the mechanism of action of psychedelic substances.”
Ketanserin is a compound most recently used by psychedelic researchers in studies to block the subjective and neural effects of LSD. Ketanserin, clinically used as an antihypertensive drug, is thought to disrupt the effects of LSD by blocking serotonin 2A receptors in the brain. Liechti did not offer any indication as to whether this novel new compound works to block the effects of LSD in similar ways, however, he did offer insights into the general purposes and goals of the research.
“The novel concept is to reduce the duration of action and the effect intensity of a psychedelic in high doses, for example, in cases where panic develops or in overdoses and after the hallucinogen has been ingested,” writes Liechti to New Atlas. “The rapidity of the effect will depend on the specifics of the formulation that is being tested and developed.”
MindMed claims the development of an effective LSD-neutralizing compound would greatly amplify the safety profile of psychedelic therapy. As LSD’s effects can often last eight to 12 hours, the clinical potential of the drug would be limited. MindMed believes if there were a compound that could stop the subjective effects of LSD it may allow for broader clinical uses.
Other collaborative psychedelic science projects ongoing between MindMed and the Liechti Lab include a currently underway Phase 2 trial testing high-dose LSD as treatment for anxiety, and a soon to start Phase 2 trial testing LSD microdoses for adult ADHD.