Beckley Psytech, a private start-up focused on experimental psychedelic medicines, has drummed up GBP58mln from investors to fund its research programmes.
Led by chief executive Cosmo Feilding Mellen, the company was born out of the research into psychoactive drugs carried out over the past 23 years at the Beckley Foundation.
Some of the new cash will be used to complete an ongoing Phase 1b trial with low doses of psilocybin, best known as the ‘magic’ element in magic mushrooms, in patients suffering from short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks SUNHA, a rare and debilitating headache condition estimated to affect 45,000 people in the US and Europe. This study is already underway at King’s College London.
Another use of the funds will be to begin a Phase 1 dose-ranging study on a novel formulation of 5-MeO-DMT, the psychedelic compound found in the Sonoran Desert toad, before starting a Phase II clinical trial in treatment-resistant depression.
Beckley Psytech said the funds will also be used to help add new, unique and proprietary psychedelic compounds to the company’s drug pipeline.
“My life’s passion has been to unlock the therapeutic potential of psychedelics as I believe these compounds could help millions of people around the world,” said Feilding Mellen.
“The progress Beckley Psytech has made in attracting exceptional talent to the team and advancing our ambitious clinical development programmes over the past two years has been tremendously exciting. As we embark on our next phase of growth, our strong syndicate of expert investors will support us in bringing much-needed innovative treatments to patients suffering from neurological and psychiatric conditions.”
This financing round was led by healthcare-focused venture capitalists Integrated, with investors including Prime Movers Labs, Adage Capital Management, Delphi VC, Leafy Tunnel, Negev Capital, serial investor Jim Mellon and existing investor Bicycle Day Ventures.
Originally called The Foundation to Further Consciousness when set up in 1996 by Feilding Mellen’s mother Amanda Feilding, under the moniker of the Beckley Foundation since 1998, has stated its twin aims as being “to scientifically investigate the effects of psychoactive substances on the brain and consciousness in order to harness their potential benefits and minimise their potential harms”, as well as “achieving evidence-based changes in global drug policies in order to reduce the harms brought about by the unintended negative consequences of current drug policies”.
Last year, when he spoke to Proactive, Feilding Mellen described the foundation as “the world leaders in psychedelic research and has been for the last couple of decades.
“A long time before psychedelics were fashionable, or even something that mainstream media was even interested in, the Beckley Foundation was one of the initial kind of starters of the renaissance in the interest of psychedelic science.
The foundation’s pioneering research with many of the leading institutes in the world, such as Johns Hopkins and Imperial College, included the first brain imaging studies on LSD and psilocybin and the first-ever study of treatment-resistant depression with psilocybin.
“Basically Beckley Psytech is building off the foundation’s early work and taking these early-stage pieces of research that now they’ve reached a critical mass and they’re ready to increase the scale and ambition of investment, and take these substance through the full-blown pharmaceutical drug development process to become licenced pharmaceuticals for patients.”