Nov 13, 2021 - Health

Psilocybin trial reveals drug's efficacy in treating serious depression

Psilocybe mushrooms are shock frozen in liquid nitrogen at the Numinus Bioscience lab in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Psilocybe mushrooms are shock frozen in liquid nitrogen at the Numinus Bioscience lab in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, in September. Photo: James MacDonald/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The largest-ever study of the psychedelic drug psilocybin revealed Tuesday that the drug is effective in treating serious depression, Stat News reports.

Why it matters: The Compass Pathways study, which is the "largest randomized, controlled, double-blind trial of psilocybin," found that patients who were given the highest dose of the drug had a significant decrease in depressive symptoms as compared to the placebo group, per Stat.

Driving the news: About 29.1% of patients who received the highest dose of psilocybin — the compound found in magic mushrooms — were in remission three weeks after treatment, compared with 7.6% of those in the control group, according to Compass Pathways.

  • The patients that received 25 milligrams — the highest dose of the drug in the study — also experienced a "highly statistically significant and clinically relevant reduction in depressive symptom severity after three weeks," per Compass Pathways.
  • Patients who received the lower 10-milligram dose did not experience a statistically significant difference after three weeks.

The big picture: The results of the study, which included 233 patients across Europe and North America, come after the Food and Drug Administration granted Compass Pathways a breakthrough therapy designation, paving the way for a potentially accelerated drug approval process, per Stat.

Between the lines: The study also included data on patients who experienced adverse side effects from the drug.

  • Twelve patients reported treatment-emergent serious adverse events, including five who were in the 25-milligram group and six in the 10-milligram group.
  • "The suicidal behaviors were reported at least one month after the administration of treatment and they occurred in patients who were essentially non-responding," Guy Goodwin, Compass’ chief medical officer, said Tuesday, per Stat.

Of note: The results have not been published in a medical journal or peer-reviewed, according to Stat.

What to watch: Compass is in the early stages of beginning a Phase 3 trial next year, per Stat.

Go deeper: The science of psychedelic therapy breaks on through

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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