1.26.21

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Bryan Johnson

Kernel on Psychedelics

Neuroscience is hard. Tell me if you see a pattern, emphasis mine:

Pfizer, in 2018: “We have made the decision to end our neuroscience discovery and early development efforts…”

AmGen, in 2019: “…we’ve made the decision to end our neuroscience research and early development programs…”

Why is this a trend across the largest pharma companies? In part, because of how hard it is to assess whether a new drug works in the brain when the endpoints are so subjective. There simply aren’t biomarkers or brain scan anomalies that we know of for many mental dysfunctions, which means that few pay to scan a patient’s brain, which means that there isn’t enough data to discover possible biomarkers, which means R&D departments have nothing to go on, which means few scans of brains, which means there won’t be any biomarkers discovered, which means…etc etc. You see the problem.

Excitingly, the FDA has recently taken a new look at old-school psychedelics, allowing research on psychedelic pharmaceuticals as “breakthrough therapies” such as MDMA for PTSD and psilocybin and a variant of ketamine for resistant depression. I am excited that Kernel is combining its state-of-the-art neuroimaging with Cybin, a novel-molecule and psychedelic research company who is exploring the cutting edge of these exciting therapies.