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25 Oct 2018

Business Profile – Compass Pathways: Navigating Mental Health Pathways

by Roderick

Those interested in psilocybin-containing fungi and the medicinal powers of mushrooms are all abuzz about the new psilocybin clinical trials for which Compass Pathways has been approved. Let’s take a closer look at the company, who’s involved and what they intend to do in the short-term and long, to increase access to psilocybin and other “unconventional” compounds.

Primary Focus: Increasing research of, and access to, psilocybin therapy Type: Business Based in: London, UK Number of employees: 10 Number of Directors and Advisors: 17 Core Values (their words): Compassion, Trust, Innovation, Collaboration

Current research

  • A Clinical Trial on Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD)

    • Taking place in Europe and North America (This is the important FDA approval)
    • Not necessarily a new investigation, but much larger sample size
    • This is considered a phase 2B trial, with ranging dosage
    • 216 participants over 12 to 15 different testing sites
    • Already underway in the United Kingdom (London, Manchester, Newcastle)

  • Two other sites in the Netherlands (Groningen, Utrecht)

    • Working with “Worldwide Clinical Trials”
    • Upon success, will be followed by a phase 3 trial

  • Investigates optimal dose and standards of care
  • A Healthy Volunteer Study on Cognition and Emotional Processing

    • A phase 1 trial, double-blind
    • 90 participants, aged 18-65
    • Dosed 10 or 25 mg of psilocybin, or placebo
    • Simultaneous dosing of 6 people (group interaction)
    • Tested over 12 weeks with 4 check-ins
    • IoPPN, King’s College London; U. of Zurich, Switzerland

  • In association with Cambridge Cognition
    • Began mid-summer 2018, expected to finish mid-November 2018
  • Results by early 2019

Research funding

Given that a business is inevitably driven by their sources of funding and profit, it is informative to take a look specifically at where their funding comes from. As a private venture pursuing research and development in the UK, Compass Pathways is eligible for R&D incentive payments from the UK government, a source of funding that will remain active as long as they pursue research. The original seed-money that was used to initiate the research, that allowed for these incentive payments, came from an interesting assortment of groups that are primarily active in the burgeoning cryptocurrency market:

  • Apeiron Investment Group
    • CEO Christian Angermayer is also on the Compass Pathways Board of Directors
    • Specializes in “angel” or “start-up” money
    • Primarily focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain applications
  • Thiel Capital
    • Brainchild of Republican Libertarian Peter Thiel, a Paypal co-founder
    • Focuses on funding “esoteric” research
    • Singularity, Life Extension, “Seasteading”
  • Galaxy Investment Partners
    • Claims to only pursue “digital assets and blockchain applications”
    • Considered one of the “biggest Crypto firms on Wall Street”

While the focus on cryptocurrency and blockchain applications may seem odd at first glance, both are incredibly new and still considered to be “risky” investments, primarily due to issues with regulation and adoption. Psilocybin therapy, and development of a drug that may remain illegal in many jurisdictions for an unknown time, could equally be seen as a high-risk, but potentially high-reward, investment. Regardless, Compass Pathways does not seem to be lacking in investment interest, it has allowed them to assemble a significant group of people to populate their Scientific Advisory Board and Board of Directors.

Company key individuals

Along with the founders, advisors and directors have been hand-picked from every associated field, from drug development to regulatory legislation. You can find the exhaustive list of individuals involved in the business below. This team brings all the expertise and experience required to bring psilocybin therapy to the mainstream.

Associated Individuals as of October 1, 2018:

  • Co-Founders
    • Ekaterina Malievskaia MD MSc
      • Chief Medical Officer
    • George Goldsmith
      • Chairman
    • Lars Christian Wilde
      • Chief Operations Officer
  • Scientific Advisory Board
    • Prof David Nutt MD PhD (Chairman)
      • Director of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London
      • Member of the European Brain Council
      • Past President of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
    • Prof Paul Summergrad MD
      • Chairman of the Psychiatry Department at Tufts Medical School
      • Former President of the American Psychiatric Association
    • Prof Diego Pizzagalli PhD
      • Associated with the Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research
      • Psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School
    • Prof Luca Pani MD
      • Global Innovation Director at NeuroCog Clinical Trials
      • Associated with the Italian Medicines Agency
    • Prof Zach Mainen PhD
      • Associated with the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown
      • Leads a laboratory researching Systems Neuroscience
    • Prof Dr. Elisabeth Binder
      • Director of Translational Research at the Max Planck Institute
      • Associated with the Emory University School of Medicine
    • John Rush MD
      • Professor Emeritus
        • University of Texas SWMC
        • Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School
      • Published over 10 books and 600 articles on depression and bipolar disorder
    • Prof Sir Alasdair Breckenridge CBE FSRE
      • Former Head of the UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
    • Tom Insel MD
      • President and co-founder of Mindstrong Health
      • Team Lead at Verily Mental Health
      • Director of the US National Institute of Mental Health
    • Prof Paul Summergrad MD
      • Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Tufts Medical Center
      • Served as a member of the APA DSM 5 Scientific Review Committee
  • Board of Directors
    • The 3 co-founders mentioned above
    • Christian Angermayer
      • CEO of Apeiron Investment Group
    • Annalise Jenkins
      • Executive Chairman at Vium
      • CMO of Bristol Meyers Squibb
      • Head of R&D at Merck Serono
    • Thomas Lonngren
      • Head of the European Medicines Agency for 10 years
        • David Norton
      • Chairman of Global Pharmaceuticals at Johnson & Johnson

Resources: After-On Interview between Rob Reid and the co-founders: https://after-on.com/episodes/027

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