News | June 27, 2024

Psylo Partnership To Deliver Psychedelic Treatments For Mental Health

  • Brain and Mind Centre joins forces with global biotech start-up
  • University research expertise combined with Psylo's artificial intelligence platform promises life-changing therapeutics.

The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre has partnered with Psylo, a global biotechnology startup and pioneer in non-hallucinogenic psychedelic drugs, to develop innovative treatments for psychiatric and neurological disorders using advanced artificial intelligence technologies.

This initiative highlights the University’s commitment to bridging academic research with industry innovation, providing real-world solutions to pressing health issues.

Dr Nick Everett, a Research Fellow and NHMRC Emerging Leader at the University of Sydney’s School of Psychology and an expert in behavioural neuroscience, has been awarded a partnership grant by the University’s Brain and Mind Centre to lead this initiative.

Dr Everett has developed machine-learning-guided behavioural analysis technology, which utilises high frame-rate cameras and sophisticated data-parsing techniques to predict the behavioural profiles and potential therapeutic properties of new drugs. Psylo will use this powerful platform, which is exclusively available to them, to enhance the capacity and efficiency of Psylo’s drug development.

“This partnership with Psylo represents a pivotal moment in our ongoing efforts to translate academic research into transformative treatments,” Dr Everett said.

“By combining our machine-learning models with Psylo's cutting-edge platform, we aim to develop more effective and safer treatments for mental health conditions, at a pace faster than previously possible.”

Psylo is at the forefront of developing novel medicines that utilise the body’s serotonin receptors to treat central nervous system disorders. Their work focuses on ‘non-hallucinogenic 5-HT2A agonists’ that activate the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor, like traditional psychedelics, but without causing psychoactive effects. Their compounds have shown promise in preclinical studies for their antidepressant effects and ability to promote neuroplasticity.

Psylo aims to address the limitations of conventional treatments, like SSRI antidepressants, and the barriers faced by traditional psychedelic therapies.

Chief Scientific Officer at Psylo and University of Sydney alumnus Dr Samuel Banister said: “Our proprietary computational platform has successfully optimised next-generation drug candidates that retain the therapeutic benefits of natural psychedelics in preclinical models.

“The expertise provided by Dr Everett and the University will be invaluable in accelerating the translation of these compounds into viable treatments for patients."

This collaboration comes at a crucial time, as Australia has recently become the first country to allow psilocybin and MDMA to be prescribed for the treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), respectively.

Despite their potential, the high cost of these treatments – estimated at more than $20,000 per course – makes them inaccessible to most. Psylo aims to bridge this gap by offering more cost-effective solutions that retain the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics without the need for specialised administration under clinical supervision.

Psylo CEO Josh Ismin said: “The treatments we are developing could redefine how we treat depression, anxiety, and other central nervous system disorders. Through this partnership, we can use machine-learning approaches to expedite the development of these promising therapeutics to address this tremendous unmet need.”

Mr Ismin said that Psylo is on track to begin its first human clinical trials next year.

This partnership, funded through the Brain and Mind Centre’s Partnership Grant scheme, highlights the successful trajectory of university-industry collaborations, such as the University’s partnership with Kinoxis Therapeutics, in which Dr Everett has also played an important role.

Like Kinoxis, this new venture with Psylo could become a landmark in psychiatric medicine, demonstrating the University’s pivotal role in fostering innovation that addresses significant public health challenges.

Source: The University of Sydney