A Natural Psychedelic Compound for Brain Injury
Algernon NeuroScience is developing AP-188 (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT) as a potential treatment for stroke recovery. DMT is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that is part of the tryptamine family, which also includes psilocybin and psilocin. Algernon is the first to test DMT as an emergent treatment for ischemic stroke, with a Phase 1 trial currently underway at the Centre for Human Drug Research in Leiden, The Netherlands.
Mechanism of Action
DMT is naturally occurring and found in plants and animals and is expressed naturally in humans in times of great physiological stress, including cardiac arrest and childbirth. It is assumed to have roles in cell protection, regeneration, and immunity as well. The drug is a sigma receptor agonist, and some evidence points to sigma receptor binding as a critical factor in the drug’s protective actions.
Psychedelic drugs as a class have also demonstrated an ability to promote neuritogenesis both in vivo and in vitro. The effects are believed to be through agonism of the 5-HT2A receptor, although other receptors, including sigma, may be involved. DMT increases expression of brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which promotes neuroplasticity: a key factor in the brain’s ability to form and reorganize synaptic connections, which are needed for healing following a brain injury.
DMT is also known to bind to a number of other receptors, including various 5-HT, dopamine, adrenergic, and trace amine receptors.
Algernon has filed patents for DMT pamoate and nicotinate (novel salt forms of DMT) in addition to formulation, dosage and method of use claims for ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, as well as traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Company has also filed claims for combination therapy of DMT and stroke rehabilitation including Constraint Induced Movement Therapy.