Beckley Psytech Acquires Eleusis; Another look at Colorado's Prop 122; PAT for Smoking Cessation is a Cultural Wedge;
This week we’re looking at:
Beckley Psytech’s acquisition of Eleusis Therapeutics
The potential for naturalistic research in Colorado
Psychedelic Assisted smoking cessation’s mainstream appeal
But first, a word from our friends at Beckley Retreats.
Beckley Psytech Acquires Eleusis
From the Press Release:
Beckley Psytech Limited… today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire clinical-stage life science company, Eleusis Therapeutics Limited ("Eleusis"), in an all equity transaction.
…Beckley Psytech has acquired 100% of Eleusis, receiving full developmental and commercial rights for the company’s assets…
Founded in 2014, Eleusis was clearly ahead of its time as the culture, investors, and regulators had not yet warmed to the idea of psychedelic therapeutics.
Perhaps sensing it was too soon for psychedelic medicine, Eleusis divided its efforts between ‘experiential’ psychedelic medicine for mental health conditions and psychedelic-derived anti-inflammatory treatments based on the research of David Nichols.
In a Stat News article from 2020, Eleusis CEO Shlomi Raz noted:
“Eleusis, the company I founded in 2014, is focused on unlocking the therapeutic potential of serotonin 2A receptor agonists, commonly referred to as psychedelics, by reducing or managing their perceptual effects. The primary neuroreceptor that mediates psychedelics’ psychoactivity, the serotonin 2A receptor, is also known to play a key role in regulating immune function. Our research has revealed that some psychedelics that activate the serotonin 2A receptor are potently anti-inflammatory at doses unlikely to result in psychoactivity.”
However, by the time the psychedelic hype cycle began in earnest, psychedelics-as-anti-inflammatories was but a footnote.
As I’ve argued, seminal events between 2017 and 2019 launched the psychedelic renaissance into orbit, including the FDA awarding Breakthrough Therapy designation to MAPS, Compass Pathways, and Usona and the publication of Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind.
These developments changed the landscape and made psychedelic medicine a cultural and political possibility.
So you could say that Eleusis suffered from a first-mover disadvantage.
But stepping back and taking in the broader landscape, this deal is a somewhat prominent example of what we should expect to see more of in the coming months, namely the acquisition of IP and assets by larger, well-funded drug developers from cash-strapped programs.
As Psychedelics Alpha noted on Twitter this week:
However, what may make this particular deal unique is that unlike many of the publicly listed psychedelic companies that IPO’d on the less regulated Canadian exchanges during the frothy period between early 2020 and late 2021, Eleusis could have uniquely valuable assets.
Again from the Press Release:
The acquisition adds ELE-101, a next-generation, short-duration psychedelic ready for Phase 1 clinical trials, to Beckley Psytech’s pipeline. ELE-101 is an intravenous (IV) formulation of psilocin, the active metabolite of psilocybin…
ELE-101 has US patents granted for composition of matter and is highly complementary to Beckley Psytech’s strategic focus on developing short-duration psychedelic therapies. Beckley Psytech aims to initiate a Phase 1 single ascending dose study of ELE-101 in healthy volunteers before the end of 2022, with a proof-of-concept Phase 2a clinical study in patients with depression following soon after.
As I understand it, developing a stable form of psilocin was no small feat. However, this is exactly what David and Charles Nichols accomplished with ELE-101.
If the project is proven in clinical trials, it may be a significant milestone in medicinal chemistry.
More from Colorado
As we noted last week, Coloradoans will vote on Proposition 122, the state ballot initiative that would decriminalize several psychedelics as well as create a commercial infrastructure for ‘Supported Adult Use’ of psilocybin in licensed healing centers.
Colorado Sun Columnist Trish Zornio weighed in this week in support of the bill and noted the potential for research opportunities if it becomes state law (emphasis added):
“After much consideration with scientific and policy colleagues, I will be voting yes — although admittedly I don’t agree in full. For example, as a general principle, I don’t agree with preemptively applying the term medicine, natural or otherwise, to substances that have not fully passed scientific evaluation at the federal level.
However, I don’t believe the substance should have been criminalized to begin with, and one cannot discount the stage of current research in combination with the centuries-long indigenous history of use as evidence in and of itself…
Given the federally acknowledged need to expedite our understanding, supporting Prop. 122 could have an unexpected benefit that sways even those of us who are mildly skeptical: the opportunity to assist in fast-tracked research into psilocybin without added taxpayer cost…
We can learn a lot from well-designed naturalistic and real-world research and legalization frameworks like those in Oregon, and hopefully, Colorado could be settings that allow unique research projects that quicken the scientific understanding of psychedelic use.
In a favorite paper of mine from Robin Carhart-Harris and colleagues argued that such research could enable the necessary insight into the practice and safety (emphasis added):
“Positive findings from modern trials are catalysing developments, but it is questionable whether current confirmatory trials are sufficient for advancing our understanding of safety and best practice. Here we suggest supplementing traditional confirmatory trials with pragmatic trials, real-world data initiatives and digital health solutions to better support the discovery of optimal and personalised treatment protocols and parameters.”
Psychedelic Assisted Smoking Cessation as a Cultural Wedge
“A single dose helped her kick a 40-yer habit.”
Back in August, we covered the NYU trial of Psilocybin for Alcohol Use Disorder and the prominent mainstream media coverage the trial received.
“The concept of psychedelics as a treatment for alcohol addiction is a particularly compelling narrative for mainstream audiences…
Because alcohol is a culturally and legally acceptable drug, compared to illicit drugs of abuse the problem of alcohol addiction is an acceptable topic of conversation and can be safely discussed on platforms such as the Today Show.”
Smoking cessation is another indication that is particularly impactful to mainstream audiences.
When discussing psychedelics as a matter of policy, the more specific the use case or patient demographic, the more powerful the argument—“A single dose helped her kick a 40-yer habit” is a powerful statement.
That’s it for this week, have a great weekend!