The article New MindMed Study Shortens Trip with “LSD-Neutralizer” was originally published on Microdose.
New MindMed Study Shows LSD Experience can be Shortened with an “LSD-Neutralizer”
On November 7th, MindMed (Nasdaq MNMD; NEO: MMED) collaborators at the University Hospital Basel published a paper showing that the administration of ketanserin — a blood pressure medication — effectively ends LSD’s psychedelic experience within 2.5 hours.
The MindMed-sponsored study had 24 healthy participants take 100 micrograms of LSD — a moderate dose — and then an hour later they received either a placebo or 40 mg of ketanserin. According to the authors of the paper, including Dr. Matthias Liechti, “Ketanserin reversed the acute response to LSD, thereby significantly reducing the duration of subjective effects from 8.5 hours with placebo to 3.5 hours.”
The ketanserin also “reversed LSD-induced alterations of mind, including visual and acoustic alterations and ego dissolution,” and “reduced adverse cardiovascular effects and mydriasis that were associated with LSD.”
The drug did not, however, affect BDNF levels (a protein produced by your body that is correlated to depression levels) nor the pharmacokinetics of LSD (how the drug is absorbed and distributed in the body).
In other words, ketanserin effectively aborted an LSD hallucination, when taken an hour after consuming the psychedelic. There were no observed major negative side effects to taking ketanserin, and it even reduced some negative side effects of LSD, such as elevated blood pressure.
Benefits to reducing a psychedelic trip
MindMed’s “LSD neutralizer” technology — if confirmed to work in further studies — may play a large role in the future of LSD-assisted therapy. In essence, it has two main benefits.
First, is the potential to abort “bad trips.” While in psychonaut circles there is a mantra that there is no such thing as a bad trip, there are people who can react to a drug like LSD with extreme anxiety. In extreme cases, this could (we still need better data on this) induce an episode of psychosis. In such situations, we want the therapists overseeing LSD-assisted therapy to have an “off-switch,” ending the therapy.
If a patient is having a terribly difficult experience, this would not only help alleviate their anxiety, but also increase their safety, as well as the safety of the therapist. This could help prevent the “one-in-a-million” nightmare scenario, which if publicized could set the whole psychedelics-as-medicines paradigm back by years.
Next, if psychedelic therapy is ever going to go mainstream, it will need to solve its affordability and accessibility problems. A large dose of LSD can cause psychedelic experiences lasting more than eight hours. This means that for the entire time the patient is “tripping,” they would need to be monitored by a highly paid therapist, with other support staff on hand. If multiple psychedelic therapy sessions are required, when accounting for all expenses, ultimately the cost to a patient (or insurer providers) can end up being north of $10,000 for the total treatment.
This, obviously, will price out many people.
Therefore, if a shorter duration LSD experience can provide the same psychological benefits as a longer one — this question will need to be studied — the treatment would become much more affordable, and thus more accessible.
So, where do we go from here?
Well, first, we will want to see this study replicated multiple times, to confirm its findings and ensure that mixing the two medicines is safe.
Next, we likely need more data on dosage levels. In this study, participants only consumed 100 micrograms of LSD, which is half of the 200 micrograms MindMed is studying for treating anxiety disorders. If the LSD dose is doubled, will ketanserin still abort the experience within 2.5 hours?
Likewise, is there anything that can be done — either by playing with the dosage levels or by some other means — that can speed up the rate at which people sober up after taking the ketanserin?
While the regimen of taking ketanserin an hour after LSD to ensure that the experience lasts less than four hours could be game-changing in making LSD therapy affordable, waiting more than two hours while in the midst of an extremely difficult experience is not the best imaginable scenario. For sure, it is better than waiting 8 hours, but there is room for improvement.
Despite these questions, the results of this MindMed-sponsored study are very encouraging. Perhaps, with a little fine-tuning, ketanserin will become a tool all psychedelic therapists have on hand.
It is important to note that MindMed is not the only company working with ketanserin. Others, such as Compass Pathways (Nasdaq: CMPS) are likewise studying the drug.