Wesana Health Goes Public, Looks At Psychedelics As Treatment For Traumatic Brain Injury
On Monday, Wesana Health Holdings Inc. announced that its shares began trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker symbol “WESA.”
The company, founded by former NHL left-winger Daniel Carcillo, is focused on finding novel solutions for treating traumatic brain injury (TBI) through psychedelics and naturally sourced therapies.
Last month, the company announced the closing of a CA$16.1 million ($13.3 million) private placement.
“The company was born out of a space of necessity, based off of my personal journey, not only with TBI but ultimately finding psychedelics that saved my life,” Carcillo told Benzinga.
A Business Born Out Of Advocacy
Carcillo retired in 2015 from the Chicago Blackhawks at age 30, with two Stanley Cups on his shelf and seven diagnosed concussions.
His friend Steve Montador had recently passed away after 19 diagnosed hockey-related concussions, which caused chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE). Carcillo was presenting similar symptoms.
CTE is a neurodegenerative disease related to repeated blows to the head that affects athletes – especially contact sports – military personnel who have been in combat and victims of domestic violence, to name several of the main victims of the condition.
Symptoms include behavioral and mood disorders including problems with concentration, confusion, depression and paranoia. CTE sometimes leads to early dementia and an increased risk of suicide.
Today, the condition has no established treatment or cure.
“I quickly realized how sick I was, because you don't really realize it in your career. And all of these symptoms were robbing me of quality of life,” Carcillo said.
Soon Carcillo began a self-directed quest to find a solution to his CTE symptoms. He explored countless alternatives with no positive results, including consultations with CTE pathologists, concussion pathologists, looking into brain banks, neuroendocrinology, functional neurology, neurofeedback, acupuncture, transcranial magnetic stimulation, deprivation tanks, hyperbaric chambers, and other alternative treatments.
“And then I just became like most TBI survivors: hopeless. There's a reason that the number-one cause of death is suicide because we think we have nothing else to try,” Carcillo said.
At that point, the former athlete was introduced to psilocybin. He experienced “a big dose ceremony done in a really responsible way, with the right set, the right setting, the right person, the right dosage and the right integration afterwards.”
The effects were instantaneous.
“I woke up the next morning feeling the way I should. And then two weeks after the ceremony, subsequent symptoms either started to lessen in intensity or all but faded away,” he said.
Carcillo continued to experiment on himself with psilocybin, pairing it with proper sleep, an absence of GMO or processed foods, alcohol and sugar. After six months his brain scans showed no abnormalities.
“The raw data behind it proves that there's structural change in my brain. New neurons are created, right- and left-brain hemispheres are communicating,” Carcillo explained. “Right away I knew that this could be the first novel validated care option for TBI survivors.”
After one year of confirming that his results continued to be favorable, Carcillo went on an all-out quest to scale up this solution for other TBI survivors.
“From advocacy, the business was then born,” he said. Carcillo partnered with Chad Bronstein, today the company’s executive chairman, to build the infrastructure and to put Carcillo’s protocols into patents and develop FDA-approved medicines and treatments.
Tackling TBI With FDA-Approved Medicines
Wesana is working on a retrospective study with 200 patients who suffer from TBI and who have already had access to psilocybin and other psychedelics. Results will be announced in June.
“We're looking at treating TBI-related symptoms,” said Carcillo. “Right now the FDA, there's no validated measures to treat traumatic brain injury. So we'll work to treat the symptoms. Then we'll work with the FDA to find those validated measures so that we could actually treat the pathology”
Using the data they’re collecting, Wesana Health plans to develop personalized treatments that can adapt to each patient.
Currently, the company is putting Sana0013, a psilocybin formulation, through the research pipeline to have it approved as a TBI treatment.
The company intends to explore other formulations including ketamine, MDMA, 5-MeO-DMT, ayahuasca and mescaline.
Wesana is exploring two routes of administration. A big dose treatment intended to stimulate neuronal growth and help the right- and left-brain hemispheres communicate again. This will be administered in a few isolated instances.
While the company is still in the R&D stage, Carcillo anticipates that small dose therapy could follow over a longer period of time.
Treatment would be coupled with coaching and education on good sleep and nutrition habits that will be presented in a detailed protocol that TBI patients will be able to follow.
The company also has pre-IND meetings with the FDA and Health Canada set for the fourth quarter of 2021 and expects to be conducting human clinical trials by the third quarter of 2022.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Carcillo
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