A Canadian company is testing whether psychedelics will be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, which may manifest as feelings of dread, irritability and sleeplessness so severe they affect the patient’s ability to go about every day life.
In the subsequent few months, Diamond Therapeutics will begin clinical trials to evaluate whether low dosages of a pharmaceutical version of psilocybin, the lively compound in magic mushrooms, can improve symptoms. Currently, the disorder is treated with antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors — “but only about half of the individuals who take SSRIs reply to them,” says Michael McDonnell, Diamond’s chief medical officer.
The corporate’s goal is to fill the gap for many who don’t reply to those drugs.
In an earlier study, Diamond established that psilocybin is unlikely to provide hallucinations at low dosages. This next trial will assess the cognitive effects of the treatment and whether it improves quality of life. McDonnell says that the low dosage removes the danger of a “bad trip,” and there are rigorous criteria for choosing study participants to exclude those with conditions that may be exacerbated.
Scientists have been studying psychedelics as a treatment for anxiety and depression for many years. Within the Nineteen Fifties, drugs corresponding to LSD were used to treat mood disorders and alcohol dependence before psychedelics were criminalized and research ground to a halt.
Scientific interest in psychedelics is on the rise again, with researchers taking a look at them as potential treatments for a spread of conditions, including anxiety, depression, PTSD and addiction. In response, Health Canada clarified its rules around psychedelics last December to offer more certainty for scientists testing latest treatments. (As an illustration, a licensed physician is required to screen potential participants.)
“Anxiety is the most typical psychiatric disorder,” says Judy Blumstock, Diamond’s chief executive. “And the prevailing treatments aren’t satisfactory.”
Tech firms make big-money deals
Despite the broader slowdown in tech-sector funding, some Canadian ventures are bucking the trend. Toronto-based Peak Power, which creates software for optimizing energy use, has inked a deal with cleantech investor Madison Energy Investments value $200 million in project financing and development capital. The partnership should speed up construction of green energy storage projects.
Meanwhile, Edmonton’s Jobber, which runs a business management platform for home services professionals, has raised $100 million (U.S.) in growth capital.
Help for small businesses determining AI
With all of the hype around bots like ChatGPT and now Google’s Bard, two Canadian tech centres are teaming up to assist small businesses make sense of artificial intelligence. The Vector Institute and Communitech will collaborate on helping founders learn the right way to leverage and scale AI solutions.
Energy, EV charging and colour-changing nails
Markham-based accelerator ventureLAB has unveiled 11 corporations which have been accepted into its Hardware Catalyst program. The businesses include Whenergy, an electrical vehicle charging platform; Reeddi, which provides portable clean-energy power packs; and AIM Colors, which makes tech-enabled press-on nails that change color using a mobile app.
Kitchener hospital to make use of AI to observe patient data
Grand River hospital in Kitchener has began using AI to reinforce patient care. The hospital is using technology from health-care company Signal 1 that analyzes patient data and identifies those that may require a better level of care. The same system is already in use at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
By the numbers
- 214: Sleep Country has installed BrainBox AI, a sensible system for optimizing a constructing’s energy use, at 214 of its stores. Montreal-based startup BrainBox is targeting large retailers in its expansion plans.
- $6.6 million: Invest Ottawa recently celebrated its tenth birthday with a major gift from the federal government: $6.6 million in funding. The cash can be used to support Area X.O, an autonomous-vehicle testing centre.
- $100 million: Indigenous-led enterprise capital firm Raven Indigenous Capital Partners has raised $100 million for its second investment fund. Raven invests in high-potential Indigenous enterprises that profit their communities.
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