Would you take doctor-prescribed psychedelic drugs in a controlled environment if there was a probability that they could help you heal your depression, anxiety, addiction, or other mental health issues?
The scientific minds behind United Kingdom-based AWAKN Life Sciences Inc. believe that the use of psychedelics combined with psychotherapy therapy is the next evolution in psychiatric treatment.
The company, which seeks to incorporate the use of psychedelic assisted psychotherapy into mainstream mental health care in the UK and European Union, this week announced the launch of a Commercial Clinical Research Division, which will Sponsor and Deliver clinical trials for commercial and not for profit organisations across Europe and North America in the years ahead.
The research division launch comes at a time when interest in the use of psychedelic medicines is exploding around the world.
“The recent resurgence of interest in psychedelic medicine has been driven by neuroscience research leading to small translational medicine clinical trials,” says David Nutt, chairman of AWAKN’s scientific advisory board.
“Our Scientific Advisory Board members are world-leading experts who have pioneered this research renaissance. We welcome the chance to progress further studies in new indications in this new venture.”
The new research division is the first of the company’s three planned business divisions, the other two to follow being therapeutic clinics (where treatments will take place) and practitioner training (through which AWAKN will teach practitioners how to administer psychedelic therapy).
The purpose of the research division, said Nutt, is to focus on sponsoring, designing and delivering existing pharmacological compounds and set up psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy clinical trials.
Now that the research division is open for business, it is expected that it will enable AWAKN to develop key strategic partnerships with a range of for-profit and not-for-profit organisations in Europe, Canada and the U.S.
“Our objective,” said Anthony Tennyson, AWAKN’s CEO, “is to push the boundaries of psychedelic science and bring these essential medicines to the vast number of people who can benefit from them. We want to broaden access to psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and integrate these services into mainstream mental healthcare in Europe across the company’s three divisions.”
He noted that AWAKN’s leadership team is composed of several veteran executives with backgrounds in medical and scientific research and deep interests in addressing mental health issues.
The key driving force leading all medical aspects of AWAKN is Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ben Sessa, a world renowned, UK-based, psychedelic medical practitioner, researcher, and author who has been active for the 15 years as a researcher into the potential of drug-assisted psychotherapy.
A licensed and approved MDMA, Ketamine, Psilocybin psychotherapist, Sessa has been published in both academic and medical media and is often called upon to deliver presentations on his areas of interest and expertise.
The team also includes George Scorsis, executive director at WeedMD, a Toronto company that produces and distributes cannabis for medical and adult recreational use, and who serves as chairman of AWAKN’s corporate board.
Sessa believes that it’s the right time to launch AWAKN’s divisions. “The world of psychedelic clinical research has been expanding at a staggering pace in recent years,” he said. “But most of it has been unusual research, mostly coming from academic departments funded privately by philanthropic donations or private investors and a plethora of newly emerging small-scale psychedelic drug development start-ups, rather than from established pharmaceutical companies.”
Sessa said that AWAKN’s mission is to ensure that “psychedelic research is undertaken in an ethical, timely fashion and always with a direct focus on bettering patient care and continually driving increased accessibility for those who need it.”
In short, Sessa, Nutt, Tennyson, and Scorsis, together with other members of AWAKN’s leadership team, are focusing not on rare disorders, as many trials do, but rather on clinical problems that are significant public health issues. Noting that a full 17 percent of people living in the UK and Europe are known to be affected by mental illness, Tennyson believes that AWAKN will be able to have a significant impact on the continent’s health status.
Tennyson adds that the launch of AWAKN’s research division is a major milestone on what the company considers its journey to becoming the leading UK and EU psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy company. He also said that the trials will help the medical community learn how many conditions that can be treated by psychedelic compounds.
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