More about psychedelic research at UC San Diego
Is a far-out psychedelic experience necessary to reap the therapeutic benefits of LSD? Maybe not. Adam Halberstadt, associate professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine, is studying a non-hallucinogenic LSD analog (2-BR-LSD) for the treatment of mood disorders. In preliminary studies, he found that the non-hallucinogenic compound promotes neuroplasticity and reverses chronic stress-related behaviors in mice.
Although many scientists believe there is a direct correlation between the intensity of the hallucinogenic effects and the therapeutic outcomes of psychedelics, Halberstadt’s research suggests that may not be true across the board. “For cluster headaches or even for depression, the psychedelic experience might not be necessary,” says Halberstadt. “My thinking is that it’s probably indication specific.”
$1.5M Gift to Study DMT
In July 2023, the Center for Psychedelic Research (formerly the Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative) received a $1.5 million grant from Eugene Jhong to research the effects of extended-state DMT in humans. N,N-dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT, has been associated with positive mental health outcomes, including the reduction of symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders. The powerful psychedelic has been used in ceremonies by indigenous cultures for centuries, yet its exact mechanisms are largely unknown. The gift will allow the psychedelic research team at UC San Diego to lead a study using anesthetic technology to deliver DMT infusions.
DMT is quickly metabolized through the body, and the peak psychedelic effects last only a few minutes. But the newest extended-state study will allow Jon Dean, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology and director of DMT research for the Center for Psychedelic Research at UC San Diego, a longer window to study the peak effects, as well as the ability to turn it off and on and to titrate the dose.
UC San Diego is currently the only university in the U.S. that has a dedicated division to conduct extended-state DMT research.
→ Depression: UC San Diego psychiatry professor Sidney Zisook is the principal investigator for a study of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The phase II study found that three weeks after the psychedelic session, 37% of those dosed with 25mg of psilocybin had a 50% or greater decrease in their depressive symptoms. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in November 2022. Phase III will involve more patients across the globe and study the efficacy of a second dose. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
→ Anorexia: Walter Kaye, MD and Stephanie Knatz-Peck, PhD from the UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center ran a feasibility study to determine the safety of psilocybin in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. The study, published in Nature Medicine in July, concluded that psilocybin is safe, and might even be an effective treatment. The next phase to study the efficacy of the treatment is currently underway.
→ Currently Enrolling — Phantom Limb Pain: Scientists at the Center for Psychedelic Research at UC San Diego are conducting a brain imaging-based study investigating the effects of psilocybin on amputees with chronic phantom limb pain. If you are interested in participating, contact the study team.
For more information on psychedelic research at UC San Diego, read Psychedelic Revolution in the Fall 2023 issue of UC San Diego Magazine.
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