Mon | Sep 20, 2021

Another Canadian company, Cybin, discloses UWI mushroom partnership

Published:Wednesday | August 4, 2021 | 12:09 AM

Cybin Inc, a Canadian listed company that teamed up with the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies, UWI, says it’s planning to spend millions to enter stage-two trials for the development of medicine made from psychedelic mushrooms. It’s...

Cybin Inc, a Canadian listed company that teamed up with the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies, UWI, says it’s planning to spend millions to enter stage-two trials for the development of medicine made from psychedelic mushrooms.

It’s the second company after Field Trip Limited to report a partnership in some capacity with The UWI Mona and at least the fourth Canadian listed company engaged in local mushroom research. Other North American players in the local space include New Wave Holdings Limited and Ehave Inc.

Cybin said in market filings that in “partnership with UWI”, it wants to create a medicine that will treat major depressive disorder or MDD. The trials, it said, would involve 120 patients and span Jamaica, Canada and the United States, and “expects to spend CDN$1.95 million to complete the Phase IIb study by the second quarter of 2022, a shift from the previous estimate of fourth quarter 2021”. The investment would translate to about $246 million in local currency.

Cybin said it already received approval from the Institutional Review Board and Ethics Committee of the Ministry of Health & Wellness, but awaits other regulatory approval from the ministry. It wants to conduct the second set of trials before year end.

“The Ministry of Health approval is required to begin the export process of study materials to the study site and any delays in the export/import permitting or logistics may impact the study initiation timeline. There is no guarantee that the Ministry of Health approval will be [issued] in time to allow study completion in December 2021, or at all,” it said.

In July 2020, Cybin and the Caribbean Institute for Health Research, an affiliate of The UWI, signed a memorandum of understanding to engage in research and development of psychedelic pharmaceutical products with the intention to register with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica, the company stated.

“The results of such clinical trials are intended to be submitted to the appropriate Jamaican regulatory authorities in order to obtain marketing authorisation,” the company said.

Cybin’s Jamaica team is composed of business consultants, legal counsel and local post-doctoral research students. Additionally, its research and development is led by the company’s North American chief research and development Officer, Dr Michael G. Palfreyman, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience and neuropharmacology.

Cybin is a biotechnology company with magic mushrooms and psychedelics as one area of focus. The company listed in 2020 on the NEO Exchange in Canada, has been busy seeking approvals and funding for its trials. It expects that over time the global market for psychedelics will grow from its current limited base. It argues that the market is “still in its early stages” and that over time general acceptance will increase. This will give way to the emergence of numerous and sizeable opportunities for market participants.

“The company believes that there is presently a sizeable legal market for psychedelic pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products and, further, believes that there is a promising prospect for a strong, legal psychedelic pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industry to emerge globally,” stated Cybin.

“Unlike in Canada and the United States, psilocybin mushrooms are not an illegal drug under Jamaica’s Dangerous Drugs Act, 1948, therefore research on psilocybin mushrooms is not in contravention of the laws of Jamaica and does not require any permit or authorisation from the regulatory authorities in Jamaica,” Cybin added.

Field Trip, the other Canadian company to announce its alliance with The UWI Mona last month, has said it would invest some US$1.1 million to build a research facility for psychedelic mushrooms at the university campus in Kingston. The partnership was struck in April 2020.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com