Will psychedelics go mainstream for psych treatment? One NYU researcher hopes so

From Modern Healthcare

Once dismissed as recreational drugs for the Grateful Dead set and other children of the ’60s, psychedelic drugs are winning new therapeutic credentials thanks to a New York researcher.

Dr. Stephen Ross, a psychiatry professor and director of addiction psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, began assembling a team to investigate the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics a decade ago.

Since then, the drugs, which were widely researched in the 1950s and 1960s, have undergone a renaissance in the scientific community. Clinical trials are underway that could lead to Food and Drug Administration approval of psilocybin—the active ingredient in magic mushrooms—ketamine, or “special K,” for depression, and MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ross has slowly gained institutional support and generated interest in the field from academic organizations across the country. He is even working on a trial with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, part of Johnson & Johnson.

“I think this will create a revolution in psychiatry in terms of how care is delivered and the types of models we have.” Ross told Crain’s New York Business. “You have these taboo club drugs—ecstasy, special K, psychedelic mushrooms—that are being leveraged for very hard-to-treat disorders. Ketamine was a breakthrough in psychopharmacology for depression because it works rapidly.”

But the gold standard for scientific research—funding from the National Institutes of Health—is still out of reach for trials involving psychedelics, Ross said.

With 300 clinical trials already designed and aspirations of formally establishing a center of experimental therapeutics at Bellevue Hospital, Ross is hoping an unconventional funding campaign launched this month on Crowdrise will generate the money he needs to take psychedelics research to the next level.​

A longer version of this story, titled “Bellevue doctor launches psychedelics into the mainstream,” originally appeared in Crain’s New York Business.

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