Psychedelic/Neurotech Collaboration Aims to Better Understand How Psychedelic Treatments Affect the Brain
In a press release this morning, Toronto-based life sciences company Cybin Inc. announced it had entered into an agreement with Los Angeles-based neurotech pioneer Kernel, the creation of CEO and founder Bryan Johnson, previously known for BrainTree/Venmo (acquired by Ebay for $800M US) and OS Fund.
The expanding interplay between psychedelics and tech is always an area of interest for us here at Truffle Report. It’s hardly a surprise, given the professional backgrounds of those in the space and the need to keep administrative costs down, that so many early psychedelics firms are turning to apps and digital therapeutics in an attempt to optimize what has, until recently, been the naturalistic, low-tech, and time consuming process of psychedelic therapy. It’s a trend we’re seeing across the wider mental health space as well. So far, we’ve seen apps designed to facilitate and optimize either recreational or therapeutic experiences, as well as AI platforms and therapeutic tech development programs. The hemodynamic imaging provided by Kernel’s Flow headset represents the most significant step so far in integrating psychedelic research with cutting-edge medical technology of any kind.
Kernel Flow and Quantifying the Ineffable
While brain scans of psychedelic experiences aren’t exactly new, they are an expensive and logistically challenging process, and have been restricted to a few studies from leading institutions. A scalable, wearable solution for time-domain functional near-infrared spectroscopy (TD-fNIS), available for use in Cybin’s commercial drug development pipeline, will give researchers the ability to quantifiably measure and interpret neurological responses to psychedelic stimuli in real-time. It’s a domain which previously relied almost exclusively on self-reporting qualitative datasets. Even in the best-controlled clinical setting, the personal significance of psychedelic experiences can be difficult to convey, and translate to practical results.
“Access to Kernel’s innovative Flow technology adds another exciting dimension to the investigative work that Cybin is doing to develop breakthrough treatments for mental health disorders such as depression and addiction. Currently, clinical investigators rely on limited subjective information from patients. The ability to collect quantitative data from our sponsored drug development programs is potentially game-changing in terms of our ability to measure where psychedelics work in the brain in real time, and how we ultimately design our future therapeutics. We are delighted to partner with Kernel to study the utility of Flow in sponsored clinical settings. This new cornerstone component of our sponsored clinical programs follows a record-setting capital raise, listing on the NEO Exchange and the acquisition of Adelia Therapeutics Inc., which added significant scientific capabilities, novel molecules, delivery mechanisms and intellectual property,” stated Doug Drysdale, CEO of Cybin, in this morning’s release.
“Cybin’s visionary approach to understanding and treating mental illness through psychedelic therapeutics opens a new frontier for addressing human health and wellness. This opportunity with Cybin will assist the transition from subjective self-reporting to longitudinal, quantitative measurements and insights, thereby offering the promise of data-driven, personalized treatment protocols that may significantly improve safety and efficacy,” added Johnson.
The Bigger Picture
The mainstreaming of medicalized psychedelic research is a new field, and we are still learning what questions to ask. The immense promise of early stage clinical trials around classical psychedelics alone is sufficient cause for optimism, but what does the future hold? Leaving aside the jargon of the tech and pharmaceutical industries for a moment, we come to the question of just how much we know about our own brains. The answer? Still relatively little. These developments come at a time of increased interest in our ability to manifest the untapped potential of our own minds and bodies, be it through biotechnology, nootropics, wellness practices, or, yes, psychedelics. Such research tends to pay off serendipitously, and Cybin and Kernel may well be inaugurating a new field of scientific inquiry.
Truffle Report spoke today with Kernel CEO Bryan Johnson, who shared his enthusiasm for the partnership, saying “We like Cybin a lot because they have a broad perspective on the way they go about doing this. To me, it seems like they’ve brought to bear the sturdiness of a company that could become an institutional enabler.”
Stay tuned for Truffle Report’s complete interview with Bryan Johnson.
Truffle Report wishes to disclose that Cybin Inc. is a client of our parent company, Puff Digital.
Further, the author of this piece wishes to disclose that he owns shares of Cybin Inc.
James Stephen is a content contributor at Truffle Report. He studied Politics and International Development at Trent University and completed his Postgraduate Certificate in Book, Magazine, and Electronic Publishing at Centennial College. He has previously worked as a chef, and in his spare time is an author and freelance writer.