FUTURE DIRECTIONS

 

The Hopkins team foresees many possible applications for psilocybin to relieve suffering and enhance the human experience. Traditionally, the National Institute of Health (NIH) have played key roles in funding new medical therapies. However, federal agencies have been reluctant to provide funding because of lingering public misperceptions of risk. Philanthropic funding therefore appears critical for moving this research forward in the most promising directions. The following unfunded studies are poised to make breakthrough advances in psychedelic science.

 
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OPIOID DEPENDENCE

The United States is experiencing an opioid epidemic. The best current treatments involve chronic medication-assisted therapy using methadone or buprenorphine, but these treatments are costly, time-intensive, and, while effective for some, leave much room for improvement in terms of success rate. We propose a study of psilocybin-assisted treatment of opiate use disorder in individuals who are seeking treatment for dependence upon prescription opiates. Outcomes will include biologically verified opiate abstinence and measures of well-being and life-functioning.

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EATING DISORDERS -
CHRONIC ANOREXIA NERVOSA

Eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, are notoriously resistant to treatment and often develop into a life-long condition associated with substantial health risk, including suicide, and severely decreased quality of life. This study, which builds on our previous research of psilocybin as a facilitator of treatment of addicted cigarette smokers and psychologically distressed cancer patients, will assess the safety and potential efficacy of psilocybin for treatment of chronic anorexia nervosa in adults with chronic (>3 years) anorexia nervosa who have failed at least one mode of treatment and been unable to maintain a normal body mass index (BMI).

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ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease display a high prevalence of comorbid neuropsychiatric symptoms, with more than 40% exhibiting clinically significant symptoms of depression. Beyond the challenges posed by Alzheimer's Disease, depression adversely impacts both patient and caregiver quality of life. Typical antidepressant medications have not shown clear evidence of efficacy in patients with dementia, indicating a need for novel treatments. Building on our previous research showing psilocybin to produced rapid and large antidepressant and anxiolytic effects and improved quality of life in cancer patients, we propose rigorous research testing the safety and efficacy of psilocybin on mood, quality of life, and cognitive outcomes in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s Disease.

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EFFECTS OF PSILOCYBIN ON
CREATIVITY AND COGNTION

Evidence suggests that psilocybin affects cognitive processes such as attention that may underlie creativity, and that psilocybin increases personality openness, which may also enhance creativity. Moreover basic research suggests a role for the serotonin 2A receptor, which psilocybin activates, in creativity. This study will assess the effects of psilocybin on creativity, personality, mood, and learning in healthy volunteers.

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LSD TREATMENT OF
ALCOHOL USE DISORDER

Contemporary human research with LSD remains limited to small clinical pilot studies in patients with end-of-life distress, and laboratory research on physiological effects of the drug. However research from the 1950s and 60s suggested LSD held significant promise for treating alcohol use disorders. Our proposed research will rigorously test the safety and efficacy of LSD in treating alcohol use disorder, using biological confirmation of alcohol abstinence.

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MICRODOSING

There is considerable recent interest in microdosing with LSD and psilocybin, with anecdotal reports suggesting decreased depression and anxiety, and increased well-being, energy, and creativity. Our team has considerable experience studying the cognitive, decision-making, and mood effects of both psychedelic and non-psychedelic drugs. Our proposed research we will rigorously assess the acute and persisting effects of either LSD or psilocybin microdosing on range of outcomes.