Biotechnology

Psychedelic treatment with psychocybin for severe depression, effective for up to a year

Previous research Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have shown that psychedelic treatment with psilocybin alleviates the symptoms of depressive disorder in adults for up to a month. Now, in a follow-up study of these participants, researchers report that significant antidepressant effects of psilocybin therapy, which is given in conjunction with supportive psychotherapy, can last at least a year in some patients.

The report of the new study was published on February 15, 2022 Journal of Psychopharmacology.

“Our findings confirm that under carefully controlled conditions, this is a promising therapeutic approach that can lead to significant and lasting improvement in depression,” said Natalia Ghukasyan, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University. medicine. However, she warns that “the results we see are in a research setting and require quite a bit of training and structured support from trained clinicians and therapists, and people should not try it on their own.”

The last 20 years have seen a growing renaissance of research by classical psychedelics – a pharmacological class of compounds that include psilocybin, an ingredient found in so-called magic mushrooms. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, psilocybin can cause changes in perception by altering a person’s awareness of the environment as well as their thoughts and feelings. Psilocybin treatment has demonstrated promising in research settings for the treatment of a number of mental health disorders and addictions.

For this study, researchers recruited 27 participants with a long history of depression, most of whom experienced depressive symptoms about two years before enrollment. The average age of the participants was 40, 19 were women, and 25 were identified as white, one as African American and one as Asian. Eighty-eight percent of participants had previously been treated with standard antidepressants, and 58% reported having used antidepressants in current depressive episodes.

After screening, participants were randomized to one of two groups in which they received intervention either immediately or after an eight-week waiting period. At the time of treatment, all participants were given six to eight hours of preparatory meetings with two treatment facilitators. After training, participants received two doses of psilocybin administered at intervals of approximately two weeks between August 2017 and April 2019 at the Behavioral Biology Research Center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Participants returned for observation one day and one week after each session, and then one, three, six, and 12 months after the second session; The 24 participants completed both psilocybin sessions and all subsequent evaluation visits.

The researchers reported that psilocybin treatment in both groups resulted in a significant reduction in depression, and that the severity of depression remained low at one, three, six, and 12 months after treatment. Depression symptoms were measured before and after treatment using the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, a standard depression assessment tool in which a score of 24 or higher indicates severe depression, 17-23 moderate depression, 8-16 mild depression, and 7 or more scores. less depression. For most participants, scores for total treatment decreased from 22.8 on previous treatment to 8.7 at week, 8.9 at four weeks, 9.3 at three months, 7 at six months, and 7.7 at 12 months post-treatment. Participants had stable response rates to treatment and remission of symptoms throughout the follow-up period, with 75% response and 58% remission after 12 months.

“Psilocybin not only provides significant and immediate effects, but also has a long duration, suggesting that it may be a uniquely useful new treatment for depression,” says Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., Oliver Lee McCabe III, Ph.D. ., Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology of Consciousness at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Director-Founder of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research and Consciousness Studies. “Compared to standard antidepressants that need to be taken for a long time, psilocybin can alleviate the symptoms of depression for a long time through one or two treatments.”

The researchers emphasize that further research is needed to investigate the possibility that the effectiveness of psilocybin treatment may be much longer than 12 months. Johns Hopkins is one of the sites of a national multisite randomized placebo-controlled study of psilocybin for the treatment of major depressive disorder.

Reference: “Efficacy and safety of treatment of major depressive disorder with psilocybin: Perspective 12-month follow-up” Natalie Gukasyan, Alan K. Davis, Frederick S. Barrett, Mary P. Cosimono, Nathan D. Sepeda, Matthew W. Johnson and Roland P Griffiths, February 15, 2022, Journal of Psychopharmacology.
DOI: 10.1177 / 02698811211073759

Other researchers who have contributed to the study include Alan Davis, Frederick Barrett, Mary Cozyman, Nathan Sepeda and Matthew Johnson of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study was funded in part by a mass campaign organized by Tim Ferris, as well as grants from the Riverstyx Foundation and Dave Maureen. Support from Alan Davis and Natalia Ghukasyan was provided by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (T32DA07209, National Institute on Drugs). The authors were also supported by the Center for Psychedelic Research and Consciousness Research, funded by the Stephen and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, Tim Ferris, Matt Malenweg, Craig Nehrenberg, and Blake Mikoski. The creators had no role in developing the research, collecting and analyzing the data, and in deciding whether to publish or prepare the manuscript.

COI: Alan Davis is a board member of the Source Research Foundation. Matthew Johnson has received grant support from the Hefter Research Institute, which is not relevant to this study, and he is an advisor to the following companies: AJNA Labs, AWAKN Life Sciences, Beckley Psytech, Entheon Biomedical, Field Trip Psychedelics, Mind Medicine, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization and Silo Pharma. Roland Griffiths is a board member of the Hefter Research Institute and has received grant support from a non-research institute. Griffiths is the lead researcher, and Johnson and Gukasyan are co-researchers of a multisite trial of psychocybin therapy for major depressive disorder sponsored by the Usson Institute



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