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Brits in controversial LSD study

SOURCE: Yahoo News

by The Press Association

A group of 20 British volunteers are the first in the world to have had their brains scanned while high on LSD.

The controversial study, which took place at the University of Cardiff and finished this year, was co-led by ex-drugs tsar Professor David Nutt.

Early results are said to be “exciting” but the full findings must wait until funding can be found to complete the research.

Prof Nutt was sacked from his job as the Government’s chief adviser on drugs in 2009 after saying saying ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol.

At a briefing in London he spoke out against restrictions on research on recreational drugs which he called “the worst censorship in the history of science”.

Having been turned down by “classic funders” he is now campaigning to raise the £25,000 needed to carry out analysis of the brain scanning data from the science crowdfunding site Walacea.com.

He compared current attitudes to studying recreational drugs with the Catholic church’s clampdown on pioneering Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in the 17th century.

“The only comparable example is when the Catholic church banned the telescope in 1616,” said Prof Nutt, who is based at Imperial College London.

“We’ve banned research on psychedelic drugs and other drugs like cannabis for 50 years. Truly in terms of the amount of wasted opportunity, it’s way greater than the banning of the telescope. This is a truly appalling level of censorship.”

The LSD study involved giving the volunteers injections of a 75 microgram dose of LSD before probing the activity of their brains.

Two kinds of scans were used, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (Meg) which measures small magnetic fields generated in the brain.

None of the participants reported having a bad experience but three described some anxiety and temporary paranoia.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, also from the Imperial College team, said the dose of LSD given to the volunteers was a “tiny speck”, but added: ” The effects are quite profound. It would be described as a moderate dose but a moderate dose of LSD can still produce a profound state of consciousness.”

He added: “I wouldn’t say that it’s a dangerous experiment but I would say that LSD has potential negative effects. Probably the crucial one is a bad trip. It’s not uncommon for people to have anxiety during a psychedelic drug experience .. the experience can be nightmarish at times.

“What’s especially intriguing.. is that people can have a very challenging experience yet afterwards they seem to be somehow psychologically refreshed by the experience. That’s how they describe it.”

He said there had been no evidence of psychedelic drugs such as LSD triggering psychosis in research studies, although there were anecdotal reports of this occurring through recreational use.

Prof Nutt said LSD was widely studied in the 1950s and 1960s and shown to be therapeutically useful in treating “many conditions”, in particular alcoholism.

Since it was made illegal in 1967 it had only been the subject of one clinical study in Switzerland and two neuroscience studies.

” That is an absurd amount of censorship,” Prof Nutt added.

He stood by the claim that got him into trouble with the Government, that psychoactive drugs such as ecstasy and LSD were considerably less harmful than alcohol.

“Interesting drugs that we’ve been researching like MDNA (ecstasy) and LSD, are relatively low in terms of harms, considerably less even than cannabis and very much less than alcohol,” he said. “But no research done on them.

“The law is actually wrong. The law is supposed to be based on evidence of harm but isn’t.”

He maintained that the risks of taking LSD had been “massively exaggerated” by the CIA and US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Initial funding for the LSD study came from Imperial College and the Beckley Foundation, which promotes drug policy reform and research into the medical benefits of psychoactive substances.

Prof Nutt said he approached the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust for the outstanding funding to no avail.

“The issue always comes ‘well look, these are recreational drugs’, and the recreational label is so powerful I think it scares people off,” he said.

“I personally think the neuroscience that’s been uncovered by these drugs is revolutionary.

“This research is so important it should be funded to the tune of millions.”

Dr Carhart-Harris said: “This is the first LSD brain imaging study that’s ever been conducted.

“We think it’s essentially important to understand how these drugs that are widely used and seem to have this therapeutic potential work in the brain. Once we’ve done that, we want to look at how these drugs can be put to good use.”

A previous brain scanning study was carried out by the same team on volunteers under the influence of the magic mushroom active ingredient psilocybin.

It showed that the drug affected the brain’s “hub structure” and led to more connections between regions that are not normally linked.

This, it is thought, may have a bearing on creative thinking.

In May the team is planning a study, funded by the Medical Research Council, looking at how psilocybin might be helpful in treating depression.

A spokesman for the Medical Research Council (MRC) said: “We have to ensure we use taxpayers’ money for the highest quality research that will provide real benefit. But we’re certainly not cautious about funding studies just because they relate to an illegal drug.

“Professor Nutt currently receives over three quarters of a million pounds directly from the MRC for his psilocybin research and last year alone we spent over £860,000 on studies related to cannabis.”

A total of 15 men and five women with an average age of 35 took part in the study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/brits-controversial-lsd-study-000201507.html#eiXiTJd

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Failure to fund LSD test is ‘worst kind of science censorship’

SOURCE: The Times, Science

by Oliver Moody, Science Correspondent

Six years ago, David Nutt was a senior science adviser to the government. Today, he is

appealing to the public to help him bypass what he claims is the worst piece of “scientific censorship” since the trial of Galileo.

Professor Nutt and his colleagues at Imperial College, London, have taken the world’s first brain scans of people on LSD-25, a potent psychedelic drug that scientists believe could combat depression, alcoholism, nicotine addiction and crippling headaches.

 

In the first experiment involving LSD and humans in almost 50 years, the researchers administered 75mg of the drug to 20 volunteers. The psychoactive compound is expected to trigger the same explosions of electrical activity in the brain as psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

 

In 2012 Professor Nutt’s team found that the mushroom compound had an extraordinary effect on the “connector hubs”, which began to carry sparks between neurons from opposite ends of the brain. Robin Carhart-Harris, the leading investigator, said: “You could think of these regions as being like major train stations, like the King’s Cross and Victoria of the brain.”

 

One of the phenomena that interests the neuroscientists most is “ego disintegration”, where some users temporarily lose their sense of self.

 

The LSD study has proved even trickier to carry out than the magic mushroom research. LSD has been illegal in Britain since 1966, but some companies still produce small quantities for use on rats. Professor Nutt has found that some are “very uncomfortable” about supplying it for use on people. The government has also been reluctant to fund the research after years of opposing the academic over his crusade for a liberalisation of the drug laws.

 

“I think the censorship of research into these drugs is the worst example in the history of censorship in science,” he said. “The only comparable example is when the Catholic church banned the telescope. But in terms of the amount of wasted opportunity, it’s way bigger than the banning of the telescope.”

 

He turned to the Beckley Foundation, a research charity, to fund the LSD experiment. Now the scientists have, in Professor Nutt’s words, “run out of money” before they could finish analysing the data. They are trying to raise £25,000 from the public using Walacea, a crowdfunding forum for science.

 

“The neuroscience that’s been uncovered by these drugs is revolutionary,” he said. “All research has risks.”

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4372253.ece

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British volunteers take part in ‘exciting’ LSD study

SOURCE: ITV News

Photo: Walacea/Youtube

Twenty British volunteers have taken part in a controversial study which will track the impact of LSD on the brain.

The research – which took place at the University of Cardiff – was led by the government’s former chief adviser on drugs, Professor David Nutt, who was sacked from the role in 2009 after saying ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol.

At a briefing about the latest study – which he says was turned down by “classic funders” – Professor Nutt spoke out against restrictions on research into recreational drugs, which he described as “the worst censorship in the history of science”.

None of the participants reported having a bad experience, but three described some anxiety and temporary paranoia.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, also from the Imperial College team, said the dose of LSD given to the volunteers was a “tiny speck”, but added: “The effects are quite profound. It would be described as a moderate dose but a moderate dose of LSD can still produce a profound state of consciousness.”

Photo: Walacea/youtube

An advert on science crowdfunding site Walacea.com features a clip which outlines the study – which saw volunteers given injections of a 75 microgram dose of LSD.

Professor Nutt is seeking £25,000 to see the research through to completion.

I wouldn’t say that it’s a dangerous experiment but I would say that LSD has potential negative effects. Probably the crucial one is a bad trip. It’s not uncommon for people to have anxiety during a psychedelic drug experience .. the experience can be nightmarish at times. What’s especially intriguing.. is that people can have a very challenging experience yet afterwards they seem to be somehow psychologically refreshed by the experience. That’s how they describe it.

– DR ROBIN CARHART-HARRIS

LSD was made illegal in 1967, and has only been the subject of one clinical study in Switzerland and two neuroscience studies since then.

Professor Nutt said that was an “absurd amount of censorship,” and said he stood by the claims that lost him his job with the government.

“Interesting drugs that we’ve been researching like MDNA (ecstasy) and LSD, are relatively low in terms of harms, considerably less even than cannabis and very much less than alcohol,” he said. “But no research done on them.

“The law is actually wrong. The law is supposed to be based on evidence of harm but isn’t.”

He said the study of drugs such as LSD could have the benefit of improving understanding of the brain and may even lead to discoveries that could aid the treatment of disorders such as depression.

A spokesman for the Medical Research Council (MRC) said: “We have to ensure we use taxpayers’ money for the highest quality research that will provide real benefit. But we’re certainly not cautious about funding studies just because they relate to an illegal drug.

“Professor Nutt currently receives over three quarters of a million pounds directly from the MRC for his psilocybin research and last year alone we spent over £860,000 on studies related to cannabis.

http://www.itv.com/news/2015-03-05/british-volunteers-take-part-in-exciting-lsd-study/

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People’s brains scanned while on LSD in study in Cardiff

SOURCE: BBC News

A group of 20 volunteers have become the first in the world to have their brains scanned while high on LSD.

The study was led by former UK government chief adviser on drugs Prof David Nutt, and carried out in Cardiff.

The 15 men and five women were given a 75 microgram injection of LSD, then had their brain activity monitored.

None of the group reported a bad experience, but three said they did describe some anxiety and temporary paranoia.

Two kinds of scans were used, functional magnetic resonance imaging and magnetoencephalography, which measures small magnetic fields generated in the brain.

The scanners for the experiments were provided by Cardiff University.

The full results of the study will not be known until funding can be found to complete the research.

Prof Nutt, who was was sacked from his job in 2009 after saying ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol, is crowd funding in order to raise the £25,000 needed to carry out analysis of the data.

_81407833_jex_1601325_de27-1

Professor David Nutt, neuropsychopharmacologist Prof David Nutt said LSD studies in the 1950s and 1960s showed it to be useful in treating “many conditions”

 

The Imperial College London-based professor said he approached the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust for the outstanding funding but was unsuccessful.

An MRC spokesman said: “We have to ensure we use taxpayers’ money for the highest quality research that will provide real benefit. But we’re certainly not cautious about funding studies just because they relate to an illegal drug.”

‘Good use’

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, also from the Imperial College team, said: “This is the first LSD brain imaging study that’s ever been conducted. The effects are quite profound.

“It would be described as a moderate dose but a moderate dose of LSD can still produce a profound state of consciousness.

“We think it’s essentially important to understand how these drugs that are widely used and seem to have this therapeutic potential work in the brain.

“Once we’ve done that, we want to look at how these drugs can be put to good use.”

Initial funding for study came from Imperial College and the Beckley Foundation, which promotes drug policy reform and research into the medical benefits of psychoactive substances.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-31740491

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What does the brain look like on LSD? Controversial scientist who said the drug was ‘safer than alcohol’ asks the public to donate £25,000 to fund his research

SOURCE: The Mail Online

Published 5th March, 12.01am

by Anna Hodgekiss

  • David Nutt was sacked from his post of the Government’s chief adviser on drugs after saying saying ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol
  • Professor is now trying to reveal what the human brain looks like on LSD
  • But has been refused funding from official funding channels
  • Now trying to raise cash to finish the research through crowdfunding site 

A British scientist trying to reveal what the human brain looks like on LSD is asking the public to fund his research after official channels refused.

In the controversial study, 20 British volunteers will be the first in the world to have their brains scanned while high on LSD.

Early results are said to be ‘exciting’ but the full findings must wait until funding can be found to complete the research.

0BDE6594000005DC-2979399-image-a-2_1425495165128

Professor David Nutt was sacked from his job as the UK Government’s chief adviser on drugs after saying saying ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2979399/What-does-brain-look-like-LSD-Controversial-scientist-asks-public-donate-25-000-fund-research.html#ixzz3TulZXoFs Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

The research, being conducted at Cardiff University, is being led by the former drugs tsar David Nutt.

Professor Nutt was sacked from his job as the Government’s chief adviser on drugs in 2009 after saying saying ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol.

At a briefing in London this week, he spoke out against restrictions on research on recreational drugs which he called ‘the worst censorship in the history of science’.

Having been turned down by ‘classic funders’, he is now campaigning to raise the £25,000 needed to carry out analysis of the brain scanning data from the science crowdfunding site Walacea.com.

He compared current attitudes to studying recreational drugs with the Catholic church’s clampdown on pioneering Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in the 17th century.

‘The only comparable example is when the Catholic church banned the telescope in 1616,’ said Professor Nutt, who is based at Imperial College London.

‘We’ve banned research on psychedelic drugs and other drugs like cannabis for 50 years.

‘Truly in terms of the amount of wasted opportunity, it’s way greater than the banning of the telescope. This is a truly appalling level of censorship.’

Mail-Online-Logo

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2979399/What-does-brain-look-like-LSD-Controversial-scientist-asks-public-donate-25-000-fund-research.html

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Twenty people took LSD – and we can’t find out what happened to them

SOURCE: The Independent

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

web-prof-nutt-bbc

The results of one of the first modern experiments with LSD – the “psychedelic” drug of the 1960s – will have to wait until the scientists involved raise £25,000 to analyse the data, it emerged yesterday.

For the first time anywhere in the world, 20 British volunteers have had their brains scanned while under the influence of LSD as part of research carried at the University of Cardiff, said Professor David Nutt, the government’s former drugs tsar.

Although the preliminary results are “exciting”, the final analysis cannot be completed due to lack of funding from conventional research agencies, which is why the scientists are aiming to raise money from the crowd-funding siteWalacea.com, said Professor Nutt of Imperial College London.

The Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust charity, have turned down requests for the grants needed to complete the research, he said.

hoffman

Albert Hoffman, the man who discovered LSD by accidentally dropping a tiny bit on his skin during an experiment. 

 

“The issue always comes to ‘well look, these are recreational drugs’, and the recreational label is so powerful I think is scares people off,” said Professor Nutt who was sacked from his job as government adviser in 2009 after saying that ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol.

“I personally think the neuroscience that’s been uncovered by these drugs is revolutionary. This research is so important it should be funded to the tune of millions,” he said.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, also from the Imperial College team, said the dose of LSD given to the volunteers was a “tiny speck”, but added: “The effects are quite profound. It would be described as a moderate dose but a moderate dose of LSD can still produce a profound state of consciousness.”

He added: “I wouldn’t say that it’s a dangerous experiment but I would say that LSD has potential negative effects. Probably the crucial one is a bad trip. It’s not uncommon for people to have anxiety during a psychedelic drug experience…the experience can be nightmarish at times.

“What’s especially intriguing…is that people can have a very challenging experience yet afterwards they seem to be somehow psychologically refreshed by the experience. That’s how they describe it.”

He said there had been no evidence of psychedelic drugs such as LSD triggering psychosis in research studies, although there were anecdotal reports of this occurring through recreational use.

indyNov13_main

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-ask-for-lsd-research-funding-10086142.html

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Psychedelic drugs like LSD could be used to treat depression, study suggests

 

 

 

SOURCE: the guardian (29k shares)

by Hannah Devlin, Science Correspondent

Unknown

Researchers warn that patients are missing out on potential benefits due to prohibitive regulations on research into recreational drugs

efb65761-32f6-4c63-b7a3-d377020e0bcf-1020x612

Prof David Nutt’s study has suggested mind-altering drugs – like LSD – could help reverse entrenched patterns of addictive or negative thinking. Photograph: Mark Linfield /Rex Features

 

Psychedelic drugs could prove to be highly effective treatments for depression and alcoholism, according to scientists who have obtained the first brain scans of people under the influence of LSD.

Early results from the trial, involving 20 people, are said to be “very promising” and add to existing evidence that psychoactive drugs could help reverse entrenched patterns of addictive or negative thinking.

However, Prof David Nutt, who led the study together with Amanda Feilding of the Beckley Foundation, warned that patients are missing out on the potential benefits of such treatments due to prohibitive regulations on research into recreational drugs.

Speaking at a briefing in London, the government’s former chief drugs adviser, said the restrictions amounted to “the worst censorship in the history of science”.

After failing to secure conventional funding to complete the analysis of the latest study on LSD, Nutt and colleagues at Imperial College London, are now attempting to raise £25,000 through the crowd-funding site Walacea.com.

“These drugs offer the greatest opportunity we have in mental health,” he said. “There’s little else on the horizon.”

There has been a resurgence of medical interest in LSD and psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, after several recent trials produced encouraging results for conditions ranging from depression in cancer patients to post-traumatic stress disorder.

A US study in 2014 showed that LSD helped patients with life-threatening illnesses overcome anxiety about death, in 2012 MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) in combination with psychotherapy was shown to be effective at treating post-traumatic stress disorder and a 2006 study from scientists in Arizona found that psilocybin relieved symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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But government and funders in the UK remain unwilling to engage with the potential clinical benefits of psychoactive drugs, Nutt claimed.

He equated the barriers to research to the Catholic church’s censorship of Galileo’s work in 1616. “We’ve banned research on psychedelic drugs and other drugs like cannabis for 50 years,” he said. “Truly, in terms of the amount of wasted opportunity, it’s way greater than the banning of the telescope. This is a truly appalling level of censorship.”

Ravi Das, a neuroscientist at University College London who is researching the effects of ketamine, agreed that there is an institutional bias. “The potential benefits are definitely downplayed in face of these drugs being used recreationally,” he said. “People view their use in a research setting as ‘people are just having a good time’.”

However, the Medical Research Council, said that funding is simply allocated according to the quality of research. “We’re certainly not cautious about funding studies just because they relate to an illegal drug,” a spokesman said. “Professor Nutt currently receives over three quarters of a million pounds directly from the MRC for his psilocybin research and last year alone we spent over £860,000 on studies related to cannabis.”

In the latest study, carried out at Cardiff University, 20 healthy volunteers who had previous experience of LSD were injected with a “moderate” (75 microgram) dose of the drug before having the activity of their brains monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Robin Carhart-Harris, also from Imperial College, said the dose produced “quite profound effects”, in terms of brain activity and the mood and mental state of the participants. None of the volunteers reported having a “bad trip”, although three suffered some anxiety and temporary paranoia.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s a dangerous experiment but I would say that LSD has potential negative effects,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for people to have anxiety during a psychedelic drug experience. The experience can be nightmarish at times.”

He added that even those who had a challenging experience were “somehow psychologically refreshed” afterwards.

previous brain imaging study, by the same team, showed that psilocybin decreased blood flow to certain important “hub structures” in the brain, meaning that closely linked brain areas became less tightly synchronised. The scientists believe that this could explain why the drug appears to help patients overcome conditions such as depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress where pathological patterns of thought become so entrenched they are difficult to reverse.

The team are planning a new psilocybin study in patients with depression, due to begin in May.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Drugs are illegal where scientific and medical analysis has shown they are harmful to human health. We have a clear licensing regime, supported by legislation, which allows legitimate research to take place in a secure environment while ensuring that harmful drugs are not misused and do not get into the hands of criminals.”

 This article was amended on 9 March 2015 to acknowledge the role of Amanda Feilding of the Beckley Foundation in the research project on psychedelic drugs.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/05/psychedelic-drugs-like-lsd-could-be-used-to-treat-depression-study-suggests

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Учёные собирают деньги на изучение действия LSD

SOURCE: Geek Times

Британские учёные из имперского колледжа Лондона и фонда Бекли вчера запустили краудфандинговую компанию. Сбор средств направлен на продолжение их исследования работы мозга – в частности, того, как на его работу влияет LSD. Кампания продлится 45 дней, за которые учёные надеются собрать £25’000 (порядка 2’400’000 руб).

Работа человеческого сознания – один из интереснейших аспектов науки. Учёные давно пытаются разобраться в том, как работает мозг, и в частности, как на работу сознания влияют различные вещества. LSD – одно из самых мощных психоактивных веществ, и его влияние на мозг настолько же интересно учёным, насколько оно слабо изучено.

LSD был открыт в 40-х годах 20 века, как раз во время поисков новых лекарств. Тогда не существовало аппаратов МРТ и других современных научных достижений, пригодных для всестороннего исследования его влияния на организм. А уже более полувека исследования его и других сильных наркотиков находятся практически под запретом.

Albert Hofmann

Альберт Хофман доволен открытием

 

Учёные считают, что неправильно ограничивать научный интерес, и эти ограничения сильно мешают им в поисках финансирования. В Великобритании считается, что наркотики типа LSD, марихуаны, метамфетамина, псилоцибина (волшебные грибочки) не имеют терапевтической ценности, и потому их оборот строго контролируется. Поэтому исследователи решили попробовать обратиться за поддержкой к общественности.

Аманда Филдинг, основатель фонда Бекли, признаётся, что всегда хотела изучить действие LSD на мозг. Она считает, что у этого вещества есть большое будущее в терапевтической медицине. Филдинг выражает надежду, что текущее табу на изучение наркотиков будет снято, и учёные смогут изучить их потенциал в лечении различных зависимостей, депрессии и головных болей. Кроме этого, её привлекает само по себе изучение принципов работы мозга.

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http://geektimes.ru/post/246838/

LSD cures depression? Scientists plead for cash to fund ‘exciting’ drug study

SOURCE: RT

russia-today-logo

13.si

British scientists are asking the public for financial backing to push forward an “exciting” study exploring the positive impacts of psychedelic drugs like LSD on the brain.

The study, carried out as part of a psychedelic research project by neuroscientists at Imperial College London, is expected to “revolutionize” scientists understanding of the brain.

To date, the project has been partially funded by Imperial College London and the Beckley Foundation. However, researchers are now in need of £25,000 to analyze scans.

Scientists belief LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) can be used to treat addictions, depression and chronic pain.

So far, 20 healthy volunteers, including 15 men and 5 women, were injected with 75 microgram of LSD. Their brain activity was then scanned to review the effects.

The drug is produced in crystalline form and then mixed with excipients (natural or synthetic substance), or diluted to make it ingestible. It’s described as having a “bitter” taste.

Physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, sweating, increased heart rate and blood sugar, and sleeplessness.

On Drugs Forum, an LSD user says the drug “opened up the third eye” and enabled their mind to drift off to a “peaceful place.”

 

LSD is a gateway drug to Narnia

The research is led by David Nutt, a former government drugs adviser. He was denied funding by “traditional” sources such as the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust.

Alternatively, Nutt and his team are attempting to raise £25,000 on the Walacea crowdfunding site.

An MRC spokesman said: “We have to ensure we use taxpayers’ money for the highest quality research that will prove real benefit.” They claimed they are “not cautious about funding studies just because they relate to an illegal drug.”

Speaking to RT, Cathy Simmons, a drug addiction expert who runs the Simmons Clinic in London, says she has “huge respect” for Nutt and his work.

“This research could bring enormous leaps in the understanding of psychedelic drugs and their impact on people,” she said.

Simmons, however, fears for the safety of volunteers. She said reactions to the drug can be“unpredictable,” with occasionally negative or even permanent effects.

LSD Researchers Are Crowdfunding the First Images of the Brain on Acid

SOURCE:VICE

By Victoria Turk

We’ve never seen the brain on LSD.

When research into psychedelics had its heyday in the 60s, imaging tools like MRI scanners weren’t really around, and the taboo around psychedelic drugs has meant research since then is difficult and uncommon.

But an upcoming study will offer a first peek; it’s the first brain imaging study to look at a human brain on LSD. For this research, volunteers took the drug (it was of clinical quality, not the kind you get on the street) and had their brains imaged by fMRI and MEG scanners.

You can’t see the images just yet, however. The study won’t be published until later this year, and the team don’t want to jeopardise that in any way by releasing data ahead of time. They still have a lot of work to complete on this, and other studies they’re doing on psychedelics. Not only does that take time, but it requires funding—which is why they’re asking the public to help with a newly launched crowdfunding campaign.

 

 

The study is conducted by researchers David Nutt and Robin Carhart-Harris at Imperial College London, in conjunction with the Beckley Foundation, an organisation that helps fund studies on controlled psychoactive substances and works to reform drug policy.

“It’s always been my aim to research LSD,” Amanda Feilding, the founder and director of the Beckley Foundation, told me. “In fact, that’s why I set up the Beckley Foundation very largely, because I think it’s an amazingly valuable compound, which can have many therapeutic benefits.”

She hopes that “the very best science” will help overcome the taboo on the drug and encourage exploration into how it might help in therapies for conditions such as addiction, depression, and even cluster headaches.

“Apart from that, it’s an amazing tool to explore the mechanisms underlying consciousness itself,” she added.

“We must not play politics with promising science”

But science is expensive, and funding can be even harder to come by when you’re working on something controversial. At the moment, LSD—along with other drugs the researchers have studied, such as cannabis, MDMA, and psilocybin (magic mushrooms)—are classed as Schedule 1 drugs in the UK, which means they are considered not to have therapeutic value and are therefore most strictly controlled.

Nutt said in a statement that, “Despite the incredible potential of this drug to further our understanding of the brain, political stigma has silenced research. We must not play politics with promising science that has so much potential for good.”

Feilding explained they were turning to crowdfunding as a possible new way to raise money for research that many people worldwide have expressed interest in. The campaign launches today on Walacea, a UK-based platform specifically aimed at securing funding for scientific research. It is looking to raise £25,000 (about $38,000).

“The thing is, there is an immense amount of work which needs to be done in this field,” Feilding said. She compared it to an orchard where “the fruit hasn’t been plucked.”

One advantage for those funding the LSD image study is that, as the work has already started, results won’t take years to materialise. Feilding hopes to do more LSD studies in the future, including one that investigates LSD and creativity.

For now, she says it will be “very exciting” to see the first brain images and explore the data, which should give an indication of which parts of the brain are functioning.

However, she emphasised that brain imaging is just one part of the puzzle and more work needs to be done: “It gives a better picture, but it’s not the final picture at all.”

article: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/lsd-researchers-are-crowdfunding-the-first-images-of-the-brain-on-acid

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