- A group of Silicon Valley and Wall Street executives have donated $30 million towards an initiative to research the therapeutic applications of MDMA, a psychedelic drug as an ingredient in ecstasy.
- The research aims to seek approval from the FDA for the use of MDMA to treat PSTD.
- If successful, it would be the first ever psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to earn FDA approval.
- Psychedelic research has long been tied to interest from Silicon Valley’s elite.
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A veritable who’s who of Silicon Valley and Wall Street have donated $30 million to fund research exploring the therapeutic use of the psychedelic drug MDMA, according to a report released on Thursday.
If successful, the research, which focuses on treating post-traumatic stress disorder, will make MDMA the first psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to earn FDA approval.
In recent years, psychedelic substances, including MDMA, LSD, and the psilocybin found in magic mushrooms have received greater attention for their therapeutic potential. Since 2010, studies have examined psychedelics as a potential treatment for depression, anxiety, addiction, and more. Some have called the wave of research a “medical renaissance.”
The resurgence of psychedelics can be tied to enthusiasm from many tech executives.
In his book, “How to Change Your Mind,” author Michael Pollan describes how big names of San Francisco were drawn to Esalen, a retreat center and New-Age mecca located in Big Sur, California, where they discussed their enthusiasm about potential uses for psychedelics.
Steve Jobs is said to have partaken in psychedelics and have advised that Bill Gates do the same. Silicon Valley’s stressed-out young professionals made headlines for embracing “micro-dosing,” a practice of taking small amounts of LSD during the workday with the goal of boosting their creativity.
Donors for this MDMA/PTSD study are no exception to this trend.
Bob Parsons, founder of the web-hosting company GoDaddy, gave $2 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. Genevieve Jurvetson and her husband Steven, who co-founded the automation startup Fetcher, donated $2.6 million. Joby Pritzker, the Silicon Valley investor whose private equity company has holdings in Tesla, Uber, and SpaceX, donated over $1 million and is on the board of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
Multiple donors said that their interest in funding psychedelic research comes from hope that the drug could be an effective mental health treatment for veterans.
Parsons, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam war, said that he personally suffers from PTSD, and many other donors have ties to the military.
“Psychedelic research has been thought of as ‘fringe’ for a long time. But there’s nothing ‘fringe’ about PTSD,” said Parsons, according to a MAPS press release. “There are millions of people with PTSD in the U.S. alone, and that includes veterans like me, first-responders like those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse. All of them deserve better, significantly more effective treatment options than we give them today. That’s what this research is about.”
The drug currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials for treating PTSD, and interim analyses suggest that the drug is on track to be submitted to the FDA for approval as soon as 2022, with the possibility of a decision as soon as 2023.