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Crowdfunding psychedelics: LSD brain-imaging study seeks funds

SOURCE: Reuters

by Katie Kelland

(Reuters) – British scientists are turning to crowdfunding to complete the first scientific study ever to image the brain of someone “tripping” on the psychedelic drug LSD.

The study, part of a psychedelic research project the scientists say could revolutionize understanding of the human brain, is led by neuroscientists at Imperial College London who now need around 25,000 pounds ($38,000) to finish their work.

When they do, the research will produce the world’s first images of the human brain on LSD and will begin to reveal the way the drug can work to heal many debilitating illnesses such as alcohol addiction, depression and anxiety, the scientists told a briefing in London.

“Despite the incredible potential of this drug to further out understanding of the brain, political stigma has silenced research,” said David Nutt, a psychiatrist and professor of psychopharmacology at Imperial College London.

He accused funders and governments of “playing politics with promising science that has so much potential for good”.

LSD is one of the most potent known psychoactive drugs and was used in the 1950s and 1960s as an aid to psychotherapy for various psychiatric illnesses. It appears to break down psychological defenses and help patients open up during therapy.

But it was later banned, and under the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances is now illegal almost everywhere, including in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe. This status make it extremely difficult for scientists to research its effects in humans.

People who use psychedelic drugs often describe experiencing “expanded consciousness”, vivid imagination and dream-like states.

Nutt and other researchers have previously conducted studies with psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms, and found it suppresses activity in certain “hub” areas of the brain that normally play a constraining role.

This latest study involves giving 20 volunteers a small dose of LSD and using the latest imaging technology to capture its effect on the brain. Nutt’s team said they expected to find that LSD’s effects were similar to those of psilocybin, but more profound and longer-lasting.

The LSD study has been funded so far with 100,000 pounds from the Beckley Foundation, a UK-based think tank dedicated to researching potential medical benefits of psychoactive substances.

The crowdfunding campaign is hosted by the science funding platform and will run for 45 days from March 5.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan)



See the campaign page on WALACEA

These Road Cyclists Want You To Sponsor Them As They crowdfund A Medical Cannabis Trial

These Cancer busting cyclists are taking on three countries, and 420km in just three days…

By James Renard

Drugs and road cycling. They’re two worlds that aren’t unfamiliar with each other. However, thanks to many a disgraced former Tour de France competitor, the drugs most of us associate with cycling are EPO, and a cocktail of steroids potent enough to put Ivan Drago on his arse.

However, you might not think cannabis and road cycling go hand in hand. Until now.

A group of enthusiastic roadies will complete a gruelling 420 kilometre bike ride to raise money for medical marijuana.

Fear not, this isn’t the plot of a Seth Rogen film. The folk taking to the road are doing so to raise money for a medical study looking at whether cannaboids – the fun bit in pot – can actually fight cancer as opposed to just elevate the symptoms as is now widely accepted in the medical community.

The ongoing study is being conducted by Dr Guillermo Velasco at the Complutense University of Madrid, and who requires the funding to continue his important work.

The Medical Cannabis Bike Tour starts in Valkenburg in the Southern tip of the Netherlands, works it way through Germany and Belgium, to the finish line in Amsterdam, all of which will take three long days.

The people taking part in the Medical Cannabis Bike Tour are looking for sponsorship from both private individuals and businesses, so if you think you can help, see their website for details on how to donate, along with further information on the study in Madrid.

Human Trial Investigating Cannabis As A Brain Cancer Treatment Set To Begin This Year

By Justin Alford, 13th June 2015.

Follow Justing in Twitter: @lamanaeblue

Glaucoma, pain, nausea, loss of appetite, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; the list of ailments that medical marijuana shows promise in treating seems to be steadily growing. But what about the disease most people seem to be interested in, cancer? Despite an abundance of anecdotal evidence supporting its use, clinical trials are virtually non-existent.

But cell culture and animal studies for one type of brain cancer, glioma, have been so promising that scientists are now crowdfunding for a new human study to investigate its potential therapeutic benefits. And given the overwhelmingly positive public response that this same start-up crowdfunding platform, Walacea, received earlier this year when reaching out for funds for a human LSD brain imaging project, it seems likely that the campaign will be a success.

“Donating to cannabis medical research is essential to highlight the potential of cannabinoids to treat a range of conditions,” Jorge Cervantes, horticulturalist and medical cannabis advocate, said in a statement.

But if these cannabinoids –the biologically active compounds found in cannabis plants– hold so much promise, why is public money needed to fund such important research? Like heroin and LSD, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is either deemed as having no accepted medical treatment use or there is a lack of accepted safety for its use. That’s despite the fact that it has been legalized for medicinal or personal use in some US states. Unfortunately, the resulting controls placed on drugs within this category makes scientific research into their therapeutic uses virtually impossible.

“The law is there to protect people,” Natalie Jonk, founder of Walacea, tells IFLScience. “Yet by making cannabis a schedule 1 drug, it makes people who wish to benefit from its medicinal properties criminals.” Cancer patients wishing to use the drug therapeutically are also forced to rely on forums and personal experience, which is dangerous as doses are not based on clinical evidence.

Gliomas are a common type of brain cancer, accounting for around 45% of cases. Because they have a tendency to grow into normal brain tissue, surgical removal is exceedingly difficult and often bits of tumor remain despite a surgeon’s best efforts, offering the opportunity for the cancer to return or spread to other body sites. This, combined with the fact that this organ is inaccessible to many therapeutic agents, thanks to its protective blood-brain barrier (BBB), means that gliomas are notoriously tricky to treat.

Here’s where cannabis comes in: cannabinoids can rapidly cross the BBBexerting various effects by mimicking natural substances produced by our body, the endocannabinoids, which stick to and activate so-called cannabinoid receptors. One such effect is their apparent antitumor activity, demonstrated in various different cancerous tissues in the lab.

Encouragingly, cannabinoids seem to cause cells that drive glioma progression and recurrence, called glioma-initiating cells, to self-destruct in the lab, a process known as apoptosis. If the substances can do the same things in glioma patients, then scientists are hopeful they may represent a novel way to tackle these cancers. But until scientists conduct proper controlled trials, we won’t know whether this is the case or not.

Hopefully, if this proposed trial goes ahead, we may finally glean some long-anticipated answers. The program is due to commence this Autumn, conducted across 4-6 Spanish hospitals. It will involve between 30-40 glioma patients who will be administered cannabinoids in combination with other anticancer drugs.

Alongside the crowdfunding effort, which seeks to raise £60,000, volunteers are hoping to raise an additional £200,000 from a sponsored 420 kilometer bike ride, which ends on 14 June.

Science crowdfunding startup launches cannabis cancer cure research campaign


By Kirsty Styles

Science crowdfunding startup Walacea is helping Madrid’s MedicalCannabis Bike Tour to raise the final €85,000 it needs to conduct an independent clinical trial into the effect of cannabinoids on brain tumours.

The scientists behind the tour have been working for the past 10 years to find ways to use cannabinoids, a substance found in cannabis, to treat breast cancer, skin cancer and brain tumours.

They have been fundraising since 2012 to get the cash they need for the trial in Spanish hospitals and have so far raised  €200,000.

“Pharmaceutical companies have already started patenting new drugs based on cannabinoids, through crowdfunding this research we hope to make new therapies available at a fraction of the cost by funding the research without patenting effective treatments,” said founder of Walacea Natalie Jonk.

Walacea participated in the summer 2014 programme of Bethnal Green Ventures, which aims to help socially good startups get off the ground.

The platform is named after the lesser known “co-founder of evolution” Alfred Russel Wallace, explains Jonk, who “effectively crowdfunded his research during the late 1800s”.

Walacea, which offers small rewards for people pledging to back scientific breakthroughs, made headlines back in February after crowdfunding the world’s first MRI images of the brain on LSD.

Crowdfunded LSD Study Raises Double The Goal

By Robin Burks,

Tech Times | April 20, 4:00 PM

When British scientists turned to crowdfunding to raise money for research into LSD’s effects on the brain, they had no idea they would get double the amount they asked for.

But that’s exactly what happened, and the world’s first real “Brain On LSD” study is now underway.

After raising over £53,000 or almost $80,000 on crowdfunding site Walacea – double the original goal of £25,000 – the team of scientists will scan brains under the effects of LSD for the first time ever. This sort of research hasn’t been done before because of the drug’s illegality, as well as the stigma that comes with its use.

LSD is one of the strongest psychoactive drugs ever created. The drug found use in the 1950s and 1960s for psychotherapy, but following the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, LSD was banned almost everywhere in the world. Regardless of its potential for treating mental illnesses, LSD’s illegality has prevented sufficient research into its effects on the brain.

“Despite the incredible potential of this drug to further our understanding of the brain, political stigma has silenced research,”said psychiatrist David Nutt, from Imperial College London.

The study has already begun, and the funds of the crowdfunding campaign will help complete the research. The study, co-authored by Nutt, Robin Carhart-Harris and Amanda Feilding gives volunteers LSD and then scans their brains with fMRI and MEG machines. This should show researchers where LSD affects the brain, as well as indicating how the drug could potentially be used to help those with mental illnesses.

“Understanding more about the physiological effects of LSD will help us shed light on potential medical interventions as well as help us learn more about consciousness,” reads the description on the crowdfunding page. “In many respects how the brain works is still a mystery. By researching how psychedelics work, we will be a step closer to understanding how specific areas of the brain are affected to induce certain psychological effects.”

The same research team conducted a recent study on psilocybin, the main ingredient in “magic mushrooms.” Their work showed that psilocybin affects parts of the brain also affected by depression, OCD, Alzheimer’s and autism. They expect that their findings with LSD will have similar results.

In 2014, another team of researchers conducted a small study on LSD and found the drug effective in decreasing anxiety.

Nutt and his colleagues hope to release the findings of their study later this year.

46 countries are backing the world’s first LSD brain imaging study

crowdfunding campaign for the world’s first ever images of the brain on LSD has smashed its initial financial goal of £25,000 in just 36 hours.

Over 1,200 people in 46 countries jumped in support of the study, as part of the collaboration between the Beckley Foundation and Imperial College London, and has since raised nearly £45,000.

The study aims to uncover the physiological effects psychedelics actually have on the brain as well as revealing ways they could work to heal many debilitating conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, alcohol dependence, anorexia, obesity and depression.

“Investigating the potential benefits of currently ‘controlled’ substances should not be an obstacle course, it should be encouraged,” said Amanda Feilding, the director of the Beckley Foundation Psychedelic Research Programme.

“This should be particularly the case for psychedelics, whose low risk profile and promising therapeutic potential do not warrant the draconian censorship imposed on them.”

Scientists use crowdfunding to boost research into LSD effects on the brain

SOURCE: The Pharmaceutical Journal

By Ingrid Torjesen

A team of researchers at Imperial College London require £25,000 to continue their study to analyse the effects of LSD on the brain.

Scientists have turned to crowdfunding to support an imaging study showing the effects of LSD on the brain, the first to be conducted in the UK.

The team has begun a psychedelic research programme with £100,000 of funding from The Beckley Foundation. However, the group needs a further £25,000, which they are attempting to raise through the crowdfunding website Walacea. The crowdfunding campaign will run for 45 days from 5 March 2015.

Despite the incredible potential of this drug to further our understanding of the brain, political stigma has silenced research,” says David Nutt, the principal investigator and a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London. “We must not play politics with promising science that has so much potential for good.”

The researchers administered a 75μg IV dose of LSD to 20 subjects and used both functional MRI and magnetoencephalography (MEG) imaging to record the effects. fMRI records snapshots of activity taking place in the brain and MEG measures oscillating neuroactivity. The rest of the funding is needed to fully analyse the results.

Numerous studies were conducted on LSD in the 1950s and 1960s, but then the drug was made illegal. In the past 50 years, there have only been three studies undertaken due to the difficulty and costs of obtaining the necessary licences to conduct the research, and the struggle of finding funders willing to support it. None of these studies have been conducted in the UK.


Nutt was previously chair of the UK government’s Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs, but was sacked in 2009 after advising the government not to toughen laws on cannabis by reclassifying it from C to B and recommending that ecstasy be downgraded from class A.

The research at Imperial College has previously focused on the effects of psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, on the human brain. The group previously carried out a similar imaging study of the brains of subjects who had taken IV psilocybin. Psilocybin was found to decrease the blood supply to the brain, particularly in what is known as the default mode network (DMN), a network in the brain responsible for coordinating and censoring the different areas in the brain involved in conscious awareness, and caused a “de-synchrony in the activity” of the brain. They predict similar but more powerful effects from LSD.

Crowdfunding Video darüber, was LSD im Hirn auslöst

Spannende Kiste: Eine Untersuchung dessen, was LSD während seiner Wirkung im Kopf tatsächlich auslöst. Gab es so noch nicht. Jetzt versucht man die Kosten für eine derartige Studie per Crowdfunding zusammen zu bekommen, was bereits schon jetzt geschafft ist. Ich freue mich auf das Ergebnis dessen, was dabei herauskommen wird. Kümmert sich ja sonst keiner drum.

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