NHS trust researches psychedelics therapy

Research is being carried out into a potential new treatment for depression.
Research is being carried out into a potential new treatment for depression.

A North East NHS Trust is carrying out scientific research into a potential new treatment for depression involving a chemical found in magic mushrooms.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), a provider of mental health and disability services, is one of three clinical sites in the UK and around 18 worldwide that are taking part in a multi-national research study into psilocybin therapy in people with treatment-resistant depression.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring chemical found in particular species of mushrooms, sometimes referred to as magic mushrooms.

It is one of a group of drugs known as psychedelics.

The psilocybin being used in the study has been chemically synthesised to good manufacturing practice standards by the study sponsor, COMPASS Pathways, a life sciences company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health.

Participants who are currently suffering from at least moderately severe depression for between three months and two years, and have tried between two and four antidepressant treatments in this episode, will be recruited into the study.

Any still on antidepressants will have these tapered off prior to the administration of a single dose of psilocybin. They will be supported by two trained facilitators for six hours on the dosing day and follow-up visits will last 12 weeks.

Professor Hamish McAllister Williams, consultant psychiatrist and principal investigator for NTW, said: “The data we have currently suggests psilocybin therapy may be a novel and very different treatment for depression. However, more evidence is required before it is used clinically.

“This exciting new study will provide valuable effectiveness and safety information that will help us progress the development of the treatment and its potential introduction into clinical practice. If the study is positive, this will have implications for many people with depression who have not responded to conventional antidepressants.”