- Evidence shows potential of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to transform existing treatment models for mental health and addiction
- Research, development, testing, and treatment centres are key to implementing this new form of therapy to improve patient outcomes
- Numinus is poised to address this public health crisis with its team of veteran medical experts and integrated business model for research, development, testing, and therapy
Mental illness is one of the most pervasive and challenging health issues in Canada. In any year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health concern, and by age 40, roughly half of the population will have experienced some kind of mental health problem or illness. Despite this, treatment models for mental health conditions are based on symptom management—rather than being curative—and involve a chronic lifelong diagnosis.
Beyond the obvious cost of human suffering, these poorly understood conditions place a great economic strain on society. Mental illness costs the healthcare system billions of dollars each year, with billions more lost to reduced productivity caused by untreated and undiagnosed conditions. Addiction presents a similar challenge for the public health system. The thousands of opioid-related deaths in Canada every year point to the severity of this ongoing crisis; over 80 per cent of these deaths are related to fentanyl and its analogues.
“If you look at how severe some of the symptoms are, there’s a real need for something that can address the core issue in a timelier fashion. And, based on recent studies, the first-long term insights into the efficacy of psychedelic treatments look promising.”
— Payton Nyquvest, CEO, Numinus Inc.
A paradigm shift is needed. While it can be difficult to conceptualize what a radically new approach to mental health and addiction treatment could look like, it’s increasingly coming from a surprising place—the once-fringe field of psychedelic assisted therapy. One company leading the way in this emerging space is Numinus Inc. (TSXV: NUMI), a healthcare company that wants to use an integrated approach and serious medical expertise to lessen the societal costs of mental illness, addiction, trauma, and unmet human potential.
“If you look at how severe some of the symptoms are, there’s a real need for something that can address the core issue in a timelier fashion,” the company’s CEO, Payton Nyquvest, notes. “And, based on recent studies, the first-long term insights into the efficacy of psychedelic treatments look promising.”
One of those studies, published in 2016 by the Journal of Pharmacology, follows a previously published investigation into a single moderate dose of psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, for patients with cancer-related existential distress. The results are significant.
The Journal of Pharmacology found that “By the six-and-a-half-month follow-up point, between 60 and 80 per cent of the patients displayed clinically significant improvements in depression and anxiety symptoms.”
A new model for mental health treatment
Numinus is an operating company at the forefront of the transformative change in addressing the growing prevalence of mental health issues and the desire for greater wellness.
The company’s unique growth platform includes a testing and research facility that can support the emerging market of psychedelic therapies to supplement existing options in addressing mental illness, addictions and PTSD, as well as a fully integrated wellness centre model that they aim to scale globally.
Core to fulfilling the company’s mission is the appointment of Dr. Evan Wood as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Wood has gained international recognition as a leading researcher into addiction over his 20-year career, most recently as the Executive Director of the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use. Dr. Wood’s firsthand experience with the societal costs of mental health conditions led him to a longstanding interest in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, particularly through his involvement with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). With MAPS, Dr. Wood was part of groundbreaking research into the potential of psilocybin- and MDMA-assisted therapy for a wide range of mental health disorders including PTSD.
“We don’t have good tools to treat most mental health conditions right now,” says Dr. Wood.
“Most of the models are based on symptom management and involve a chronic lifelong diagnosis, whereas psychedelic therapy is an intervention that’s meant to have curative intent. For example, many people that are coming through trials for MDMA-assisted PTSD treatment no longer exhibit the symptom criteria to meet that diagnosis. It’s a radical paradigm shift from traditional models,” he adds.
Numinus CEO, Payton Nyquvest, is equally enthusiastic about the potential of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. “Traditional therapy, while it can be very effective, is typically a very long process,” he shares. “It can be a very long time before someone, even being very dedicated, can make a meaningful shift in their lives.”
While the potential of psychedelic therapy may sound almost too good to be true, increasing interest in the space has been driven by real, promising research. Initially, these compounds’ emergence in the 1960s and 70s led to a strong association with recreational use and counterculture, after which scientific inquiry lulled as the drugs were made illegal in the mid-1960s and gained a negative reputation in the media.
Since the turn of the century, that cultural baggage is finally starting to lift thanks to initiatives like the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, a dedicated centre in the United States’ oldest research university. Among the compelling results produced by the centre were an 80 per cent reduction in depression and anxiety for patients with life-threatening cancer, as well as a smoking-cessation study that led to 67 per cent of participants remaining abstinent one year after their quit date—over twice the success rate of other forms of smoking cessation therapy.
Leading the way with integration and expertise
A distinctive aspect of Numinus’ work is their integrated approach. The company is comprised of Numinus Bioscience, licensed by Health Canada to test, sell, distribute, and eventually conduct research on psychedelic substances; Numinus R&D, where partnerships with leading research groups will advance practice and understanding; and Numinus Wellness, which is dedicated to providing access to therapies that enhance and supplement existing options.
The planned wellness centres are a crucial part of helping patients access the healing potential of this kind of therapy. “For decades now, people with expertise in psychedelics have talked about how important setting is,” says Dr. Wood. “It’s the setting and the support that are so important. It’s the safe approach and preparation for the psychedelic experience, followed by the process of consolidating the experience and the insights patients have gained.”
Numinus is quick to emphasize that, in stark contrast to cannabis legalization, recreational or at-home use of these substances is not on the table. Nyquvest adds, “It’s really not as easy as just offering someone a psychedelic experience and sending them on their way. There’s a lot of prep work and supportive practices that need to be wrapped around psychedelic therapy in order for it to be effective.”
While other groups and companies continue to enter the space as it evolves, Numinus’ history with this model of therapy has established them as a leader. “The competition conversation is always an interesting one,” says Nyquvest. “We’re very grateful and happy to see this category is being built, but what sets us apart is the robustness of all of these pieces that we’ve pulled in together to have a real impact in North America and to do it within a legal framework.”
It is the strength, experience and knowledge of its people that makes Numinus truly poised to advance its sector, such as the addition of Dr. Gabor Maté to the Numinus Clinical Advisory Council. Dr. Maté is internationally known as an author and advocate for mental health research and awareness, with three decades of pioneering work in family practice, palliative care, and addiction medicine.
“The other leaders at Numinus bring their personal experiences to the table with a lot of integrity,” notes Dr. Wood. “For us, the desire is to bring scientific and laboratory expertise to the table along with firsthand clinical expertise in a comprehensive wellness model. That’s the vision, and that’s what we’re striving for.”
An exciting time for investors
The upcoming years at Numinus will be fast-paced and transformative, as the company evolves rapidly into an ambitious growth strategy informed by increasing acceptance of this kind of research. Newly listed on the TSX Venture Exchange as NUMI, the company has also received Health Canada approval to amend the company’s existing licence under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act to allow Numinus researchers to conduct research to standardize the extraction of psilocybin from mushrooms. The amendment means Numinus is the first publicly traded company in Canada to be granted a licence by Health Canada to conduct research of this kind.
Numinus is public! Our much anticipated listing on the TSX-V as $NUMI goes live today. We couldn't be more excited for what the future holds. Thank you for your ongoing support, and we look forward to sharing this journey with you. https://t.co/wY4UAcUg7Y pic.twitter.com/nNJHMyudsY— Numinus (@NuminusInc) May 20, 2020
The integrated value chain of Numinus Bioscience, Numinus Wellness, and Numinus R&D is what makes the company special. “Going forward, we’re really focusing on that clinic model,” says Nyquvest. “There’s a number of different clinics that we have interest in potentially acquiring, and we do plan on building a purpose-built facility in Vancouver that would be one-part clinical practice and one-part research. For us, the growth going forward will be based on continuing to broaden the clinic footprint that we’ve already been exploring in depth.”
For 2020, the company plans to upgrade its lab and processing facilities, seek additional licences that will help them continue research into psychedelic substances, establish new therapy protocols, and build out a second wellness centre.
“These are exciting times for all of us at Numinus,” says Nyquvest of the company’s new TSXV listing. “We are looking for like-minded investors who share our belief that new approaches and ways of thinking are needed on our mission to address the universal desire to heal and be well.”
To learn more about Numinus Inc., visit their website here.
Follow along with Numinus on social media: