The medical and scientific institution disclosed that the European Union (EU) allocated more than €6.5 million to partners from nine countries in “support of research into the use of synthetic psilocybin, a compound found in “magic” mushrooms (hallucinogens), to alleviate psychological suffering in people with illnesses that require palliative care”.
The foundation, in partnership with other European clinical centers, will be able to treat more than a hundred patients, in this case patients with “advanced movement disorders, including atypical parkinsonian syndromes”.
Each of these centers will specialise in the treatment of different conditions, the University Medical Center Groningen (Netherlands) specialises in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the National Institute of Mental Health (Czech Republic) for multiple sclerosis and the Bispebjerg Hospital (Denmark) has specialised treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The clinical study called PsyPal, funded by Horizon Europe, the EU’s main research and innovation program, will be coordinated by the University Medical Center Groningen.
In 2025, patients should begin to be recruited to participate in the study, which is based “on a controlled multicentered trial, allowing researchers to collect data from a diverse range of participants in different locations across Europe to increase the validity and applicability of their discoveries”.
These incurable diseases have a major impact on patient’s lives, 34 percent to 80 percent of them suffer from depression and anxiety, which reflects “the need for innovative treatments is critical”.
“Initially, psychedelics showed promise in treating depression and anxiety in patients with terminal cancer. However, the results were more variable in patients with psychiatric disorders with the absence of a life-threatening diagnosis, which led us to focus again on incurable conditions”, said Albino Oliveira-Maia, director of the Neuropsychiatry Unit at the Champalimaud Foundation.
“If this treatment proves to be effective, in the future we will be interested in exploring the individual conditions of medication and psychological support to help patients with depression. This knowledge will be crucial for an efficient allocation of resources”, he added.
Carolina Seybert, a clinical psychologist and CF researcher, stated the trial “will first evaluate its safety and effectiveness in palliative care”.
“We are especially interested in the long-term effectiveness of treatment, a crucial aspect that is often underevaluated. The study, designed to last three months, will be followed by a comprehensive six-month follow-up to determine lating results”, she concluded.
The European support is intended for a consortium of 19 partners, which includes the Champalimaud Foundation, bringing together a diverse team of experts such as psychiatrists, palliative care physicians, psychologists and experts in psilocybin therapy.