Atai Life Sciences To Research Potent Psychedelic Herb Salvia Divinorum Through Its New Subsidiary

Atai Life Sciences ATAI has announced the launch of a new subsidiary that will research Salvinorin A, the active compound in salvia divinorum, a hallucinogenic herb native to Central America.

Atai, based in Berlin, is developing a variety of psychedelic treatments for mental health purposes. Revixia Life Sciences is the newest addition to its portfolio, which includes a significant stake in Compass Pathways CMPS.

The companies expect to begin clinical trials on Salvinorin A in the second half of 2022.

Salvinorin A’s Potential In Treatment-Resistant Depression

The salvia divinorum plant has been used medicinally by the Mazatec people of Oaxaca in Mexico for its positive effects in the treatment of conditions such as diarrhea, headaches and rheumatism.

In large doses, the plant can produce very potent, short-acting hallucinogenic effects, which Revixia Life Sciences plans to explore for the treatment of depression.

Its active compound, Salvinorin A, has been described as a dissociative psychedelic that differs from “classic psychedelics” such as LSD, psilocybin or DMT in its mechanism of action and pharmacology.

A 2012 Johns Hopkins study on eight healthy subjects concluded that “Salvinorin A produces a unique profile of subjective and cognitive effects, including strong dissociative effects and memory impairment, which only partially overlap with classic hallucinogen effects.”

While classic psychedelics interact with serotonin receptors, Salvinorin A interacts with the body’s kappa-opioid receptors. For Atai and Revixia, this distinction opens the possibility of exploring the use of Salvinorin A in combination with traditional antidepressants, or SSRIs, which have been found to not mix well with classic psychedelics as they also interact with the serotonin system.

‘’While [Salvinorin A] has until now been under-studied, its unique [mechanism of action] may allow for combination with SSRIs, potentially giving patients a better chance in beating depression,’’ said Srinivas Rao, CSO and co-founder of Atai Life Sciences.

The compound’s short duration of effect can also open new possibilities for access to psychedelics treatment, making it “an attractive option for those who would like psychedelic treatment but are unwilling or unable to participate in longer sessions."

Revixia CEO Glenn Short expanded on this point: "The shorter experience will allow for more practical administration and monitoring, which may even make it possible to attend psychotherapy sessions on the same day."

Photo by Artofactivism on Wikimedia Commons


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