How psychedelic-assisted therapy works
Existing addiction medicines target drug receptors in the brain, to reduce symptoms such as cravings. These have low long-term success rates for substance addiction, and offer no solution to behavioural addiction.
Our approach is different, delivering profound and long lasting changes over a single course of treatment.
Addiction – like anxiety, depression, and PTSD – is based on patterns of behaviour established in the brain, usually in response to trauma.
Our psychedelics disrupt the brain circuits that underlie these unhelpful patterns. They weaken neural connections linked to harmful thought patterns, opening the door for clients to rewrite constructive alternatives. By focusing on circuit mechanisms, not receptors, our approach has potential to work in behavioural addictions such as gambling, and for mental health conditions.
Through inducing these conditions that allow relearning of emotional responses, our psychotherapists can engage clients with root causes of their addiction.
This is an entirely new paradigm for mental health, where we are moving from palliative care towards permanent cure. We believe this is the biggest change to psychiatry in 100 years.
Read more about our Research and Clinical Trials and How our clinics will operate.
Our Therapy and Drug Development Pipeline
Project Kestrel is focused on repurposing ketamine in combination with therapy to treat AUD and behavioral addictions. Ketamine is an N-methyl-d-Asparate (NMDA) receptor agonist with well-established safety and efficacy as an analgesic and anaesthetic. At sub-anaesthetic doses ketamine produces alterations in consciousness, disrupts memory reconsolidation, and delivers downstream neuroplasticity, which when combined with therapy has been proven by Awakn to significantly reduce the probability of relapse for Alcohol Use Disorder.
Project Kestrel builds on Awakn’s successful phase II a/b clinical trial for ketamine-assisted therapy for Severe AUD in which participants in the active arm achieved 86% abstinence at 6 months post treatment versus 2% pre-trial meaning and 25% in current standard of care. Project Kestrel has three distinct workstreams.
MDMA, an investigational medicinal product (IMP), is an entactogen that acts as a releaser and reuptake inhibitor of serotonin, norepinephrine (NE), and dopamine. MDMA has demonstrated potential efficacy in clinical trials to treat AUD and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), However, challenge exists to the successful development of MDMA as a marketed drug: excessive treatment duration of 6 to 8 hours; variable pharmacokinetics due to gastrointestinal absorption; and first-pass metabolism negatively effecting bioavailability.
Awakn is addressing these challenges by developing a market-ready proprietary formulation and optimized delivery route for MDMA.
New Chemical Entities
Awakn’s NCE program is focused on developing New Chemical Entity (NCE) candidate(s) with similar properties to MDMA but with quicker on-set and shorter half-life. These NCEs therefore have the potential, when combined with therapy, to treat a range of mental health conditions which have trauma as a casual factor and which have poor current standards of care but in a more efficient manner than current available entactogens like MDMA.
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