Australia: An Initial $700K In Funding For Observational Trials Of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies

Registered charity Mind Medicine Australia (MMA) seeks to help alleviate the suffering and suicide caused by mental illness through expanding novel treatment options to medical practitioners and patients. To that end, it has received new funding support for the development of observational trials of psychedelic-assisted therapies. 

The initial funding commitment of $690,600 (AU$1,000,000) will be provided by the Hunt Family Foundation, the largest available philanthropic grant for the rapidly emerging therapeutic psychedelics field in Australia. The charity intends to seek matching funding from other philanthropists, in order to leverage the impact of this initiative.

As MMA chairman Peter Hunt said: “The elephant in the room is the lack of innovation in treatments for mental illnesses for over 50 years.”

In 2021, they successfully assembled more than $10 Million (AU$15 Million) for innovative mental health clinical trials of psychedelic-assisted therapies from the Federal Government through the Medical Research Futures Fund

According to MMA, that kickstarted the country to considerably increase the number of clinical trials involving psychedelic medicines; yet that same period coincided with the worsening of the national mental health crisis. 

For this situation to improve, the high remission rates achieved in clinical trials need to be translated and taken to general clinical environments while further improving the therapeutic methodology and protocols.

The charity’s executive director Tania de Jong further explained: “Unlike conventional treatments, which often require patients to endure years of daily medications and weekly support from a mental health professional, psychedelic-assisted therapies can be effective after just two to three clinically supervised sessions with the medicines supported by a short course of psychotherapy. The medicines have been shown to be safe and non-addictive when administered within a medically controlled environment.”

More Details On The Current Project

Trial applications will be assessed and managed by members of MMA’s scientific and clinical advisory panel. The group’s chair will be David Nutt, head of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.

“There is growing acceptance that observational trials collecting real-world evidence are important in understanding the value and clinical utility of new treatments. They have proven vital to the development of medical cannabis and are likely to do the same for psychedelics,” Dr. Nutt said.

One of the acceptance criteria is observational trials focusing on specific groups in the community –such as veterans and first responders– where patients usually have multiple comorbidities and therefore could present more difficulties in their treatment.

Another would be proposals developing different therapeutic approaches, including support tools for patients after the therapy ends.

Importantly, all applications will be considered on the basis of merit, while funds allocation will be based on recommendations from the panel of experts. Successful grants are subject to the applicants receiving approval from an ethics committee.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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