University of California, Davis Study
As reported by Nick Cherbanich of the Beckley Foundation
Psychedelics Promote Neural Plasticity
"Our results underscore the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and, importantly, identify several lead scaffolds for medicinal chemistry efforts focused on developing plasticity-promoting compounds as safe, effective, and fast-acting treatments for depression and related disorders."
(Excerpt from University of California, Davis report on cell.com - read the full study, click here: LINK)
A new study from the University of California, Davis has found that psychedelic drugs such as LSD and DMT promote neural plasticity and development, indicating a potential mechanism for their therapeutic benefits.
Patients who suffer from depression and post-traumatic-stress-disorder tend to have impaired neurogenesis and neuroplasticity – their brain cells grow more slowly and are less adaptable. These structural changes can lead to atrophy of various brain regions, including the hippocampus (which is involved in learning and memory) and the prefrontal cortex (which mediates personality and decision-making).
Counteracting this damage by promoting structural and functional neural plasticity has been suggested as novel way of treating psychiatric disorders. However, relatively few compounds that promote neuroplasticity – which the authors of the new study term ‘psychoplastogens’ – have been found capable of achieving this without drawbacks.
Ketamine, a dissociative anaesthetic with hallucinogenic properties, is a notable exception. By activating pathways involved with forming neurone connections, it has been found to be an extremely effective therapeutic for treatment-resistant depression (figure 1b).
Similarly, the Beckley/Imperial Psychedelic Research Programme have demonstrated significant and even longer-lasting benefits of psilocybin in the treatment of depression.(figure 1a).
Fig.1a – Psychedelics have a significant, long-lasting benefit in treating depression (adapted from Carhart-Harris et al. 2016). Fig.1b – Ketamine has similarly shown promise in treatment-resistant depression, though effects do not last as long as those observed with psilocybin (from Zarate et al. 2012).
This new study hoped to elucidate the cellular mechanism by which psychedelics achieve their therapeutic effect by investigating whether and how they affect neural growth and plasticity.
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