Testing Psychedelics Efficacy On ‘Psychiatry’s Blind Spot’: Latest King’s College Trial

A new open-label study sponsored by King’s College London (KCL) will study the effects of a single 25 milligram dose of psilocybin on patients with a diagnosis of the common and debilitating functional neurological disorder (FND).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) define this condition as “a group of common neurological movement disorders caused by an abnormality in brain function,” with two main categories: psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and functional movement disorder.

There are many types of FND with a diverse mix and range of neurological symptoms and disorders. In some people, symptoms are short-lived, while in others they can last for years.

Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud dubbed it “conversion disorder” because he believed it was originally a mental disorder that had morphed into a neurological one.

Although the exact cause of FND is unknown, it sometimes has a psychological origin as one of the relevant factors and can result from a somatic symptom disorder, often associated with stress or dysfunction, and resembling a physical illness.

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The disorder is particularly found in individuals who have a history of trauma in early life.

While FND does not cause significant structural damage to the brain, it temporarily renders it unable to function normally: it cannot send and receive signals properly, reducing brain lobe function, emotional processing, and possibly memory, concentration, cognition, and cognitive function Processing of sensations are impaired.

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That is, FND “causes real symptoms that significantly impair your functioning and coping with daily living,” as the NIH notes. Unplanned movements and symptoms occur without the person consciously initiating them, can affect any part of the body, and can appear suddenly, increase with attention, and decrease with distraction.

KCL’s study is based on a 2020 systematic review of the institution, which concluded that “there are encouraging lessons to be drawn from the pre-prohibition studies of adjunctive psychedelic therapy for functional neurological disorders” and that “further investigation into feasibility and safety.” treatment with psychedelics (more specifically psilocybin) in patients with functional neurological disorders is a potential future research option.”

The guiding question of the present study is: “Can the default-mode network, a brain network thought to be relevant in FND, be modified by pre- and post-dose administration of psilocybin based on functional magnetic resonance imaging?”

To this end, it will be assessed how the standard mode brain network of patients suffering from FND responds to psilocybin with supportive psychotherapy by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), showing a change in functional brain connectivity one week prior to administration compared to one week is then measured -dosage.

The start date of the study is estimated to be August 2023, enrolling approximately 24 subjects between the ages of 25 and 60 years with moderate to severe symptoms, present for over 12 months and refractory to best available treatment (including cognitive behavioral therapy and physical therapy). have.

The exclusion criteria of this study are subjects with diagnoses of major depression, bipolar affective disorder, psychotic disorders, drug or alcohol addiction disorders, personality disorders, dementia, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, significant suicidal behaviors (as defined by C-SSRS), pregnant or breastfeeding women and especially those who have used psychedelic substances more than twice in the past year.

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Photo: Benzinga Edit with photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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