Psychedelic treatments are on the cusp of being accepted therapies for the masses. Good data will likely help drive best practices.
The field of psychedelic discovery currently exists in two distinct domains: clinical studies conducted by scientists under strict lab conditions, many pursuing FDA approval, and everything else outside of those trials. That everything else represents a massive data set that could inform clinical trials. Yet for decades much of that information has gone underutilized.
Often referred to as “real-world evidence,” non-clinical practices span personal, therapeutic and ceremonial usage. Experiences range from psychedelic retreats in places like Jamaica and Mexico to use by therapists in cities that include Denver and Oakland, where many psychoactive drugs have been decriminalized.
There is a pervasive approach outside of the lab that represents a missed opportunity: how data is collected, documented and measured in a standardized manner. Clinical labs, by their very nature, require strict protocols and documentation, while non-medical settings are typically more freeform and non-standardized.
Bridging The Gap Of Clinical and Real-World Data
Two years ago, David Champion, CEO of psychedelic treatment platform Maya Health, recognized the unique opportunity presented by the disconnect between psychedelic research and real-world practices. Given the widespread acceptance of psychedelic drugs outside of clinical trials, he saw a wellspring of data in that environment that was ripe to be collected and shared with scientists conducting trials.
Investors have seen the worth behind Maya Health, too. On Friday, the company announced a successful raise of $4.3 million in its first investment round. Backers include The Conscious Fund, Leafy Tunnel, Meyer Mishkin and Cosmo Feilding-Mellen, among others.
Champion told Benzinga that he saw great potential for Maya Health to bring “real world practices and the measurements associated with them to the research field.” Merging the two domains could only mean a deeper understanding of their value.
He had some earlier experience that worked to his advantage. In 2014, prior to co-founding Maya Health, Champion excelled in the expanding cannabis industry and co-founded Baker Technologies, a Salesforce-like software that provides customer relationship management to cannabis dispensaries. He struck at the right time with the right idea and exited that company a few years later after achieving a valuation of $250 million.
Data Can Inform Policy
In 2018, Champion described the impetus behind Maya Health at a time when the psychedelic conversation was mounting and becoming a less-taboo topic of discussion, particularly in Denver where an initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms was gaining momentum. He could see a trajectory in the acceptance of psychedelics, Champion says, that was similar to what he’d seen previously with cannabis.
Becoming an advocate for the personal use of psilocybin mushrooms, he was invited to be a campaign leader on the soon-to-be groundbreaking magic mushroom decriminalization initiative in Denver. “We had a shoestring budget and managed to pass that as the first city in the country to do so.”
Following that win, Champion co-founded a non-profit called Unlimited Sciences and embarked on a comprehensive psychedelic study that included 4,200 participants worldwide sharing their use of psilocybin in medical, ceremonial, and recreational settings. The preliminary real-world data from that study has been applied in the Denver city council to inform how they will take their psilocybin policy forward in the city.
“That was a moment of inspiration for me,” Champion said, “understanding that that kind of data can inform policymaking at the highest levels.”
It’s exactly the kind of outcome Maya Health is seeking to replicate as more people use the Maya Health platform.
“Where we are now is in realizing the potential for Maya to support an ecosystem of individual participants, medical, clinical and ceremonial providers, and then both commercial and academic researchers,” Champion explained. “They can operate in this horizontally integrated global ecosystem to propel psychedelic research and bring about best practices in the mainstream.”
Decentralized Research And Free-flowing Dialogue
Now Maya Health is positioned to take its mission to bridge the gap between the areas of clinical and real-world evidence to the masses.
The $4.3 million in funding will enable Maya Health to bring its paradigm-shifting platform to market in 2022, assembling a global community of participants, providers, researchers, and regulators to support decentralized psychedelic medicine.
Their approach is already getting lots of buzz from beta users this year.
Dr. Priya Parmar, a board-certified psychiatrist, who is working under the assumption that psychedelics will eventually be legal and available to people in greater numbers, has been working with the platform in her practice at State of Mind Wellness Center. She believes with exposure to Maya Health, psychedelic practitioners can have more of a “free-flowing dialogue between the shaman, the psychiatrist, and the neuroscientist,” as well as the overall community of people interested in psychedelics.
Having relationships with both underground practitioners and clinicians, Parmar says she sees the value of examining data from the global community. “We all have so much to learn from each other,” she said.
© 2023 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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