Startup Y Combinator raises millions to develop new psychedelic drugs | Jobs Recent

  • Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals wants to develop the next generation of psychedelic drugs.
  • The company creates psychedelic drugs that work faster and may not have hallucinogenic effects.
  • The company just raised $39 million from investors and plans to begin clinical trials next year.

Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals is trying to develop a new type of psychedelic drug – one that has all the benefits of psychedelic treatment for mental health, but without the downsides.

Graduate Y Combinator develops new therapies that work similarly to psychedelics, such as psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, or DMT, a hallucinogen found naturally in many animals and plants, but which are designed to work faster, last shorter periods of time or no hallucinogenic effects combined.

Gilgamesh announced on Thursday that it had raised a $39 million round led by Prime Movers Lab. The company said it plans to begin clinical trials for two different treatments in early 2023 after fundraising.

“Many people still realize that these specific drug targets that are prone to fast-acting therapeutic effects will be the future, even if it may take some time,” Jonathan Sporn, co-founder and CEO of Gilgamesh, told Insider.

Sporn said Gilgamesh was born out of the idea that while psychedelic molecules have great potential for treating mental illness, companies developing molecules that have been around for a long time will struggle to be successful in the long run because treatments can be time consuming for patients. Additionally, the drugs themselves are similar to what many other companies are working on.

Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals team

Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals team

Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals

So, with the development of the psychedelics industry over the past few years, companies like Gilgamesh have focused on developing entirely new drugs.

These new drugs are easier to patent than well-known psychedelic compounds that have been used and studied for a long time. Patents are essential for biotech companies like Gilgamesh to make money if their drugs are approved.

But what Gilgamesh does differently from other psychedelic companies like Compass Pathways and organizations like MAPS is creating drugs that work faster and have fewer hallucinogenic effects.

Many of the psychedelics currently being developed take hours to administer and have strong hallucinogenic effects, making treatment times long and expensive; new drugs that do not have these characteristics could be easier for doctors to administer and available to patients.

“We wanted to look at these molecules, scaffolds, targets, and then develop new molecules that would have better therapeutic profiles than these first-generation compounds,” he said.

Next year, Gilgamesh will begin two early trials with a handful of patients – both of which will focus on depression.

One treatment being developed is called GM-1020 and is similar to ketamine, a hallucinogenic dissociative anesthetic that has shown promise in treating depression. Sporn told Insider that the company is developing the drug as a pill that can work quickly in patients and can hopefully be taken at home as it will not have the hallucinogenic effects of standard ketamine therapy.

Another drug being tested, GM-2505, is a DMT-like compound that is currently being developed as an intravenous infusion. GM-2505 will have psychedelic effects, although they are only expected to last for an hour. In comparison, some other psychedelic drugs under development – such as psilocybin and MDMA – have hallucinatory effects that are said to last up to 8 hours in a clinic.

Sporn told Insider that while the company’s initial trials focus on depression, it is also exploring whether the drugs can help treat other conditions, such as bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorder, anxiety, and OCD.

“We think those types of treatments where there is a very high unmet need will be of particular interest,” he said.

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