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(SACRAMENT)

Evidence from human and animal tests suggests that the brain-altering effects of psychedelics could be repurposed to treat addiction.

Now, researchers at the University of California, Davis and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus plan to screen hundreds of compounds to discover new non-hallucinogenic treatments for substance use disorders. The research is funded by a $2.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Previous work has shown that psychedelic drugs can rewire parts of the brain involved in depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

David Olson, an associate professor in the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at UC Davis, is looking for similar effects among compounds without the hallucinogenic effects of drugs like LSD. He calls these compounds psychoplastogens, because of their ability to modify the brain.

“I am very excited that NIDA is recognizing the potential that psychoplastogens may have for patients with substance use disorders,” said Olson. “This grant will help us understand the basic mechanisms by which these compounds affect addiction, and we hope to develop more effective and better tolerated treatments.”

Olson’s work is part of a growing focus on psychedelic research at UC Davis and UC Davis Health. His laboratory has synthesized hundreds of molecules related to psychedelics in the search for new pharmacological therapies. One such molecule, tabernanthalog or TBG, produces rapid and sustained anti-addictive effects in rodent models of heroin and alcohol self-administration.

David OlsonI am very excited that NIDA is recognizing the potential that psychoplastogens can have for patients with substance use disorders. This grant will help us understand the basic mechanisms by which these compounds affect addiction, and we hope to develop more effective and better tolerated treatments.David Olson

The research will include mechanistic studies to understand how TBG affects addiction and the development of new compounds with psychoplastogenic effects, he said. The team will use high-throughput screening to test efficacy, safety and treatment potential. Promising compounds will undergo additional animal testing at CU Anschutz.

Delix Therapeutics, a startup founded by Olson, is also investigating non-hallucinogenic psychoplastogens to treat depression, anxiety and related disorders, but is not involved in the project.

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Source: $2.7 million grant to find new psychedelic-related addiction treatments

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