UK-based Beckley Psytech aims to treat depression using a psychedelic agent found in toad

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UK-based Beckley Psytech, with its deep ties to drug policy think tank Beckley Foundation, is a for-profit company with a mission to help patients suffering from neurological and psychiatric disorders. The company is developing a pipeline of psychedelic compounds into licensed pharmaceutical medicines.

Beckley Psytech raises Series B funding

In a recent development, the biomedicine company announced that it has raised $80M (approx €67.89M) in an oversubscribed Series B round of funding. The round was initially set at $50M (approx €42.4M) and was upsized to $80M (approx €67.89M) due to interest from investors to support Beckley Psytech in broadening and accelerating the clinical development of its research pipeline.

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The news follows the company’s fundraiser of £14M (approx €15.5M) back in December 2020.

What does Beckley Psytech offer?

Founded in 2019 by long-time psychedelic researcher Lady Amanda Feilding and Cosmo Feilding Mellen, Beckley Psytech aim is to clinically validate psychedelic medicines into modern medical practice in order to help patients suffering from Short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks (SUNHA), treatment resistant depression, and other debilitating conditions.

The company mentions on its website, “We are building a pipeline of psychedelic compounds with distinct clinical attributes for mental and neurological diseases. Our development programs will focus on offering innovation and clear differentiation in the marketplace over existing treatment options.”

Beckley Psytech’s R&D platform is divided into three categories:

  1. “1st Generation” Psychedelic Medicine: Progressing formulations and applications of well-characterised psychedelic agents such as psilocybin and other compounds
  2. “2nd Generation” Psychedelic Medicine: Developing known but under-researched psychedelic agents with potential clinical and patient access advantages over the first wave of psychedelic medicines
  3. “3rd Generation” Psychedelic Medicine: Designing New Chemical Entities (NCEs) that improve upon existing psychedelics by providing better clinical and cost-efficacy outcomes

Fresh funds for research

The proceeds from this round will help Beckley Psytech to complete its ongoing Phase 1b trial with low-dose psilocybin in patients suffering from SUNHA, a rare and debilitating headache condition estimated to affect 45,000 people in the US and Europe.

Besides, the capital will be used to initiate a Phase 1 dose-ranging study on a novel formulation of intranasal 5-MeO-DMT before starting a Phase 2 trial in Treatment Resistant Depression. Additionally, the funding will also support the expansion of the company’s pipeline with new and proprietary psychedelic compounds.

A company blog explaining the science behind the availability and usage of 5-MeO-DMT, mentions, “Endogenous 5-MeO-DMT has been discovered (in very tiny quantities) in humans and rats, although its biological function, if any, is unknown. Yet it is the Sonoran Desert toad that has the highest concentration of any species in the animal kingdom – their gland secretions contain potent toxins that can kill animals that try to eat them.”

Speaking on the development, Cosmo Feilding Mellen, CEO of Beckley Psytech, says, “My life’s passion has been to unlock the therapeutic potential of psychedelics as I believe these compounds could help millions of people around the world. As we embark on our next phase of growth, our strong syndicate of expert investors will support us in bringing much-needed innovative treatments to patients suffering from neurological and psychiatric conditions.”

Investors in this round

The Series B round was led by Integrated – a healthcare focused venture capital firm which partners with companies and entrepreneurs that are transforming the health and well-being of communities around the globe. 

In addition, the round also saw participation from investors, including Prime Movers Labs – which funds breakthrough scientific startups; Adage Capital Management LP – a Boston-based institutional investor; Palo Santo; Delphi VC; Leafy Tunnel; Negev Capital; and, existing investor Bicycle Day Ventures.

Investor Dr. Amy Kruse, Partner at Prime Movers Lab, says, “The Covid-19 pandemic brought mental health to the public’s attention in a profound way. The excitement around psychedelics in the mental health market is very real because they are transformative medicines that will soon make their way into the lives of millions of people who desperately need them.”

About Beckley Foundation

Beckley Psytech was borne out of a strategic partnership with the Beckley Foundation, a non-profit NGO with over 20 years of a track record of advancing scientific research into psychedelic medicine. The foundation claims to have initiated the first-ever brain-imaging study of psilocybin, the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’, and the first clinical trial of the drug for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) at Imperial College London.

Founded in 1998 by Amanda Feilding, the Beckley Foundation collaborates with scientific and political institutions worldwide to design and develop ground-breaking research and global policy initiatives.

The Beckley Foundation’s purpose is two-fold:

  1. To scientifically investigate the effects of psychoactive substances on the brain and consciousness to harness their potential benefits and minimise their potential harms; learn more about consciousness and brain function; discover and explore new avenues for treating illnesses
  2. To achieve evidence-based changes in global drug policies to reduce the harms brought about by the unintended negative consequences of current drug policies; develop improved policies based on health, harm reduction, cost-effectiveness, and human rights
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