Psychedelic drug in clinical trial to help stroke victims recover by rewiring brain

Algernon Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian-based company, began its study this week in which stroke participants will be given a microdose of DMT with the hope of minimizing damage and maximizing recovery.

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Dimethyltryptamine, a psychedelic drug also known as “the spirit molecule,” is in the first clinical trial of its kind. Algernon Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian-based company, began its study this week in which stroke participants will be given a microdose of DMT with the hope of minimizing damage and maximizing recovery.

The sub-hallucinogenic dose was shown in pre-clinical studies to improve neuroplasticity in stroke victims, Christopher Moreau, CEO of Algernon Pharmaceuticals, said. In these studies “rodents who were given DMT recovered motor-function and rebuilt brain cells more efficiently and had fewer lesions on the brain,” METRO.co.uk reported. Moreau said the company will take that information and now test it on humans because there is “very little available” for stroke victims.

“Stroke is one of the most devastating illnesses someone will experience, and there’s some research going on, but no breakthroughs, and this could be quite exciting for medical science, neuroscience,” Moreau said.

In phase 1 of the clinical trial, healthy adults will take part in the study to “establish if DMT is safe enough for treatment and what doses will and won’t make people hallucinate,” METRO.co.uk reported. The second phase will then include short term and long term treatment for stroke victims, Moreau said.

“This is a relatively short trial because it’s an acute event,” Moreau said. “We’re not treating cancer, which could be a year long study. An event happens and literally within 24 to 48 hours of a stroke patients are already in rehabilitation.”

While there are two different types of strokes—ischemic and haemorrhagic—the sooner treatment can start post-injury the better, Moreau said. The clinical trial will help determine whether or not DMT is safe for either or both types of strokes. Researchers hope the clinical trial will improve neuroplasticity with hopes that “a disruption of ruminative neural pathways could essentially ‘reset’ the brain and help people achieve breakthroughs in therapy,” METRO.co.uk reported.

“Psychedelics—if we can unlock their potential to heal the brain it could be a whole new area of development for other issues too, from MS to Parkinsons and so on,” Moreau said.

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Ashley is an editor, social media content manager and writer at NationofChange. Before joining NoC, she was a features reporter at The Daily Breeze – a local newspaper in Southern California – writing a variety of stories on current topics including politics, the economy, human rights, the environment and the arts. Ashley is a transplant from the East Coast calling Los Angeles home.

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