The article Are LSD and r-MDMA the Future of Psychedelics? MindMed Says Yes was originally published on Microdose.
On March 8th, MindMed (Nasdaq: MNMD, NEO: MMED) CEO Robert Barrow spoke for 30 minutes at the 43rd annual Cowen Healthcare Conference. During his online appearance, Barrow walked through the psychedelic pharma company’s latest investor presentation, and gave details and insight into each of MindMed’s projects.
The big takeaway that the CEO wants psychedelic investors — and potential investors — to leave with? That MindMed is in the process of completing the necessary science into LSD and R(-)-MDMA as medicines, early data is very positive, and they have the cash runway to bring these projects to completion.
While we will shortly dive into each of MindMed’s current projects — using large doses of LSD to treat anxiety, using low doses of LSD to treat adult ADHD, and using an MDMA analogue to treat certain symptoms of autism — the main message to me is that progress is moving in the right direction.
MindMed is moving trials forward; has cash in the bank
Unfortunately for patients and investors, science moves slowly.
In order to develop new medicines, companies need to complete many clinical trials, showing both the safety and efficacy. This is as it should be. While the initial hype surrounding the “shroom boom” of psychedelic stocks around 2020-2021 may have long since worn off, this investor presentation served as a reminder that the steps that need to happen in order to bring psychedelics like LSD into the legal medical realm are happening.
To start, all the noble intentions in the world won’t matter if a company can’t fund the science investigating whether a new medicine is effective or not. To that end, Barrow discussed at the beginning of the presentation how MindMed has enough cash in the bank —$154.5 million as of the end of Q3 — to fund the company “into the first half of 2025.”
To give some quick analysis — Barrow himself didn’t say this, I am — this means that the company has enough cash, regardless of what happens to the stock in the short-term, to bring their main projects far into the clinical trial system before needing to raise capital again. Their main project, using LSD to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder, is currently in a Phase 2b trial. Therefore, it is likely MindMed will have completed their first Phase 3 trial before they need to raise money again.
By 2025 we will have also seen data on LSD microdoses to treat adult ADHD, perhaps even data from a Phase 2b trial.
In other words, investors will have a solid understanding of how effective LSD as a medicine is before the company has to raise capital again. In particular, we will be able to compare the results of LSD in treating mental health conditions like anxiety and depression to other psychedelics such as psilocybin.
Most of the presentation focused on MindMed’s three main projects. While no new information was discussed, recapping their progress to date is important.
$154.5 million as of the end of Q3 — to fund the company “into the first half of 2025
An updated look at MindMed’s clinical trials
Starting with LSD as a medicine for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, MindMed recently completed a Phase 2 clinical trial, and is now running a Phase 2b trial. The trials use MindMed’s version of LSD, called MM-120.
The Phase 2 trial had great results, finding that 65% of those with anxiety disorders saw their symptoms drop by at least 35%. This compared to only 9% in the placebo group. While obviously a lot depends on the specifics — for example what percentage of people saw a decrease in symptoms greater than 50%? — this was very promising. The company is currently running a larger Phase 2b follow-up study.
Importantly, MindMed is also measuring depression levels as a secondary endpoint in these studies, as many patients suffer from both anxiety and depression. This means when we finally see the full data, we will have an idea of how well LSD treats depression.
MindMed is also using small doses of LSD (MM-120) in a Phase 2a trial attempting to treat adult ADHD. While we don’t yet have results, Barrow did seem excited by the progress.
Likewise, Barrow discussed MindMed’s other core medicine, R(-)-MDMA, their version of which is called MM-402. MindMed hopes to use this medicine to treat symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder, for example the social anxiety that sometimes comes along with it.
R(-)-MDMA is a chemical variant of MDMA. While MDMA has shown amazing potential in treating mental health conditions such as PTSD, we don’t yet have good human data on R(-)-MDMA.
Nevertheless, MindMed says that animal studies have shown that this variation has stronger “prosocial effects” and “less stimulant activity compared to MDMA.”
Finally, Barrow discussed MM-110, formerly known as 18-MC. While this non-hallucinogenic version of ibogaine was apparently shelved after its first Phase 1 clinical trial, it may not stay on the shelf forever. In the future, MindMed may revive the program, either by themselves or with another partner.
MindMed patents and the future of LSD
There were a couple of other interesting tidbits that Barrow dropped in the presentation.
First, regarding patents, Barrow made clear that MindMed can not, and would not want to, patent LSD itself, as it is in the public domain. However, they are actively working on next-generation versions which could be patented, as well as delivery methods and other dosage-related technologies.
Next, discussing LSD versus Spravato, a ketamine nasal spray, Barrow said that MindMed believes that LSD as a medicine will be more cost-effective. While the LSD experience may last 6-8 hours and Spravato only around 2, Spravato needs to be taken 3-4 times over several weeks, as opposed to only once for LSD. Therefore, according to Barrow, LSD treatment will be more cost-effective, and therefore, more accessible.
To close, I want to remind everyone that before we can make a solid prediction on which psychedelics are most effective in which situations, we will need to see lots of comparative data.
While Barrow did say that MindMed has an “enormous degree of confidence” in “LSD as a medicine,” we will need to wait and see how it compares to psilocybin and other psychedelics.
MindMed has bet big on LSD, whereas most other companies have chosen psilocybin. This means if the efficacy or cost efficiency of LSD does turn out to be better than psilocybin and other psychedelics, MindMed could be a big winner.
But, unfortunately, it is still too early to tell. That means more waiting for the science to catch up to our imaginations.