On 19 April 1943, Albert Hofmann intentionally consumed LSD, marking the first recorded experience with the psychedelic medicine.
When Hofmann purposely drank 250μg of LSD, diluted in water, he soon found himself intoxicated and asked his assistant to escort him home.
The hallucinations intensified on the bicycle ride from the laboratory, and the day was eternalised within the counterculture community as ‘bicycle day’.
Hofmann first synthesised LSD-25 in 1936 while researching stimulants and ergot’s impact on the cardiovascular system. It wasn’t until seven years later, however, that he became aware of its psychoactive properties – through accidental exposure.
The fortuitous discovery of LSD instigated a period of intensive research into the efficacy of psychedelic compounds in psychiatry, including their interactions with neurotransmitters.
These studies laid the foundations for psychedelic-assisted therapy in the 21st century, with 19 clinical trials with LSD conducted in the current era of research.
Lysergic acid diethylamide is a synthetic serotonergic psychedelic, which binds to both dopamine and serotonin receptors to alter states of consciousness.
With psychoactive effects perceptible at dosages measured in millionths of a gram, Sandoz distributed LSD to psychiatrists under the trade name Delysid.
LSD’s ability to induce introspection and disrupt negative thought patterns was applied to treat mental health issues, with over 1,000 scientific papers published by 1970.
One of the psychiatrists exploring LSD’s therapeutic potential was Timothy Leary at Harvard University. Leary believed LSD could be used to access elevated states of consciousness, and became a public proponent for its use in answering philosophical questions.
The widespread recreational use of LSD in the counterculture resulted in a paradigm shift that would eventually result in its prohibition and put an end to research into its therapeutic potential.
President Nixon indicted abuse of LSD as public enemy number one, in his now notorious War on Drugs speech. This address, coupled with US influence on the United Nations, resulted in the creation of the UN’s 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
The bill made LSD an internationally controlled drug, outlawing its production and possession, which largely discontinued studies with the medicine until the late 20th century.
Evidence of efficacy
Many of the studies with LSD conducted in the modern era have taken place in Europe, where it was first synthesised.
Brain imaging studies on subjects under the influence of LSD have been conducted at Imperial College London, and in 2020, MindMed partnered with Liechti laboratory, at University Hospital Basel, to advance clinical trials with the drug.
Of the 19 clinical trials conducted in the modern era of research, four are in Phase II, having demonstrated LSD’s safety in patient populations.
When the FDA approved MindMed’s Investigational New Drug (IND) application at the start of this year, it was hailed as the first commercial trial of the psychedelic medicine in over 40 years.
The study hopes to enrol 200 patients to receive MM-120, pharmaceutically stabilised LSD, or a placebo, to analyse the drug’s impact on anxiety symptoms across five treatment arms.
The results of the studies could have far-reaching implications for the psychedelic healthcare industry, with top-line data from the landmark trials being presented at PSYCH Symposium: London 2022.
Dr Friederike Holze and Professor Matthias Liechti, MindMed’s partners at University Hospital Basel, will share the preliminary results at the prestigious National Gallery on Wednesday, 11 May.
‘Anxiety disorders are widespread and often insufficiently managed with available medications,’ said Professor Liechti.
‘I look forward to sharing the preliminary findings from this important study, including patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness, but also patients with anxiety disorder without severe somatic illness, adding to our understanding of how LSD may be used safely to treat anxiety disorders.’
The seminal PSYCH Symposium provides a platform for industry leaders to share research updates and insights on the efficacy of psychedelic medicines.
The brightest minds will converge in London, to share ideas and opportunities that will contribute to the future of psychedelic healthcare, building upon those first experiments by Hofmann nearly 80 years ago.
PSYCH Symposium provides an opportunity to connect with key decision makers, learn from industry leaders and share opportunities that will contribute to the future of psychedelic healthcare.
Secure your ticket today to connect with key decision makers and a community ready to support the development of psychedelic healthcare in Europe.
Industry leaders from research, policy and business will provide the intelligence needed to navigate Europe’s emerging ecosystem, as psychedelic science drives the sector to new frontiers.
For more information, and partnership opportunities, please visit the website: psych.global/symposium.