“The world desperately needs a new way to treat mental health problems, and PsyRx We believe that psychedelics are a big part of the solution, ”says Itay Hecht.
Hecht is the CEO and co-founder of this Israeli company that develops standardized pharmaceutical-grade psychedelics from natural sources – not synthetic ones – as active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Using an agromedical bioreactor invented at the Agriculture Faculty of the Hebrew University, PsyRx produces the psychedelic plant extracts psilocybin (from “magic” mushrooms) and ibogain (from the root bark of the iboga bush).
Psilocybin has been shown to have beneficial effects in treating depression, anxiety, and addiction, and has been suggested as a potential treatment for obesity, PTSD, cluster headaches, and more.
Ibogaine has shown great promise as an anti-addiction drug, among other things. PsyRx is focused on its potential to improve current SSRI antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
“SSRIs have some very dire side effects on libido and appetite, and patients often stop using them. We believe that adding a microdose of ibogaine counteracts these effects and results in a better drug, ”says Hecht, emphasizing that microdoses of psychedelic substances do not cause hallucinations.
“We will soon start testing small animals to check safety and effectiveness. Hopefully in a year we can start human studies to test this ibogaine use, he tells ISRAEL21c.
Adding psychedelics to mainstream drugs may seem a little “out there,” but in fact, it’s trending.
According to market research report CB insights, funding for psychedelic medicine companies is growing rapidly as traditional pharmaceutical giants see a decline in return on investment for drug research and development and seek alternative product research. Consumer interest in hallucinogenic drugs is also growing, according to this report.
Synthetic versions of psychedelic substances are easier to make uniformly by industry standards, but may not work as well as natural versions.
“We believe that there is a big difference between biological and synthetic molecules, especially in the way they interact with receptors in the brain,” says Hecht.
“Plastics are not as successful as a ‘key’ that fits in a ‘lock’. But it is complicated to work with biological molecules. “
This is where the bioreactor comes into play. This innovative machinery could enable PsyRx to transform the growing psychedelics market.
From cannabis to psilocybin
Hecht started his career 20 years ago in the Netherlands, where he ran cannabis pharmacies and seed companies. In 2007 he returned to his native Israel to study water and soil engineering in order to better understand the world of plants.
Five years ago, Hecht took advantage of the new regulations in Israel and founded Hi Pharma, the first cannabis grower to go public on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Then he moved to another cannabis company, Stickit Labs. Stickit’s president, Dr. Asher Holzer, is a serial biotech entrepreneur whose successful ventures included InspireMD, TheraCoat, and UroGen. He was also part of the management team at Biosense, an Israeli company that was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1997.
“Two and a half years ago we saw an opportunity in the psychedelic sector; there were no licensed companies in Israel, ”says Hecht, so PsyRx became the first company.
Holzer is chairman and co-founder of PsyRx. CTO co-founder Kobi Buxdorf is a microbiologist and holds a PhD from the Hebrew University.
Buxdorf developed tissue culture bioreactors for the production of cannabis on a pharmaceutical level and founded Cannadorf commercialize this technique.
“He then developed a bioreactor for psilocybin and brought it into the commercial phase,” says Hecht.
“There are still no standards for regulating psilocybin, so we expect it will be at least a few months before GMP. is obtained [good manufacturing practices] Term for the pharmaceutical industry, ”he says.
“We hope to be able to sell our psilocybin worldwide for clinical research and drug development by the end of next year.”
Hecht said additional research on psilocybin is coming from the Hebrew University and providing new ideas on how microdoses of this powerful substance could improve pharmaceuticals.
PsyRx has about 10 employees and has raised “a few million dollars” from private investors. “We want to go public,” says Hecht. “We really believe in what we do.”
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