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Psilocybin study underway in Seattle

Biopharma company Cybin’s staff members SVP CMC Ken Avery and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Alex Nivorozhkin conduct psychedelic research and examine psychedelic compounds in the lab.  (Photo courtesy Cybin)
Biopharma company Cybin’s staff members SVP CMC Ken Avery and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Alex Nivorozhkin conduct psychedelic research and examine psychedelic compounds in the lab. (Photo courtesy Cybin)
Evercannabis staff report

Evercannabis staff report

Researchers at the University of Washington are currently enrolling participants in a study examining if a prescribed single dose of psilocybin during one session of psychotherapy (among four sessions) can help decrease rates of COVID-related burnout for frontline medical responders.

During the course of the FDA-approved randomized study, 15 participants will receive synthesized psilocybin, provided by the Usona Institute, a non-profit research institution. Another 15 will receive a placebo.

Data collection will take about a year.

The principal study investigator is Dr. Anthony Back, co-founder of VitalTalk, co-director of the University of Washington’s Center for Excellence in Palliative Care. He’s also a UW professor of medicine and board-certified in hospice and palliative medicine, oncology and general internal medicine.

He said treating COVID has been challenging for frontline responders like nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners and other healthcare workers. It has directly contributed to cases of depression, anxiety, burnout and post-traumatic stress.

“I have seen so many people who end up making decisions out of fear and decisions that did not turn out well due to the stress of COVID patients responding with intensity and aggression,” Back said. “It is one thing for a doctor or nurse to give a recommendation and hear, ‘thanks for your opinion, but that’s not something I want to do.’ That happens, but it is a different thing to get spit on, bedpans thrown at you, or screamed at.”

This study is funded by the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. Cybin, a Canadian-based biopharmaceutical company with a focus of “Psychedelics to Therapeutics,” is funding physician training through EMBARK, a new psychedelic-assisted therapy program for different clinical indications and populations.

An adapted version of EMBARK is being used to treat COVID-related burnout and depression among healthcare workers.

The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation and Riverstyx Foundation are providing supplemental funding for specific personnel in the study.

“This study does a lot of things at the same time,” Back said. “It helps advance the science of psychedelics and their uses, it addresses a huge need in the community, and it’s part of what we all need to learn in order to get through this pandemic.

Dr. Alex Belser, Cybin’s Chief Clinical Officer, said this study could lead to a lot of positives for health care workers and beyond.

“We believe psychedelic medicine, when given with a supportive psychotherapy program like the EMBARK approach, may provide a promising treatment approach to bolster mental health.”

For more info visit cybin.com/embark/. To learn more about the UW study and eligibity, visit depts.washington.edu/clinician-study/

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