University of Western Australia: Woke and UWA enter agreement to identify novel LSD analogues

The University of Western Australia and Woke Pharmaceuticals, a Sydney-based company focused on psychedelics for mental health, have signed an agreement to discover novel active analogues of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD).

LSD is a classic hallucinogen, used recreationally since 1938, and a molecule has shown to have meaningful benefit for patients with mental health disorders, said Associate Professor Scott Stewart from UWA’s School of Molecular Sciences.

“LSD is considered non-addictive with low potential for abuse, and has been evaluated in numerous controlled studies, that have shown durable remission of psychiatric symptoms for more than 12 months after treatment for disorders like anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse,” Associate Professor Stewart said.

“The challenge with LSD is that the molecule is chemically complex and expensive to manufacture, so under this agreement our research group will work to identify and synthesise a library of novel chemical entities that are structurally similar to LSD.

“The objective of this research is to discover molecules that maintain or enhance the potency of LSD to bind with key neuroreceptors, have minimal side-effects, and are easily accessible through chemical synthesis.”

The first stage of the drug discovery program with UWA is expected to conclude in April 2023. The molecules will then be pharmacologically optimised for clinical evaluation.

“LSD was used from the 1950s to the 1970s to achieve behavioural and personality changes, as well as remission of psychiatric symptoms in various disorders,” Associate Professor Stewart said.

“However, the molecule has limitations that can be improved through medicinal chemistry approaches. With Woke Pharmaceuticals, we aim to identify novel analogues with optimal properties as drug candidates.”

CEO of Woke Pharmaceuticals, Mr Nick Woolf, said the company was excited to be collaborating with UWA to discover novel analogues of LSD that can used with psychotherapy to treat mental health and other disorders.

“Dr Stewart and the team at UWA have exceptional and relevant chemistry expertise to achieve the goals of this collaboration – a potent LSD analogue, that is commercially viable to manufacture and has broad potential as a therapeutic approach,” Mr Woolf said.

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