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Algernon Neuroscience To Investigate DMT As Treatment For Traumatic Brain Injury

Algernon Neuroscience To Investigate DMT As Treatment For Traumatic Brain Injury


A 2022 report by the Lancet Neurology Commission reveals traumatic brain injury is a global public health concern that affects 55 million people worldwide, according to Neuroscience News. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are severe incidents that often lead to disabilities and injury-related deaths.
  • Author Name: Jackie Edwards
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Editor: PharmiWeb Editor Last Updated: 28-Feb-2023

A 2022 report by the Lancet Neurology Commission reveals traumatic brain injury is a global public health concern that affects 55 million people worldwide, according to Neuroscience News. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are severe incidents that often lead to disabilities and injury-related deaths. With increasing road accidents, sports injuries, and demand for non-invasive brain injury assessment and treatment procedures, the global traumatic brain injuries treatment market will reach over $2650 by 2028. Not to mention, many research institutes and pharma companies are exploring potential treatment options for TBI. 

Recently, Algernon Pharmaceuticals announced that its branch, Algernon NeuroScience (AGN Neuro), will explore N, N Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a classic psychedelic as a treatment for traumatic brain injury. Phase 1 study of DMT for traumatic brain injury is already underway at the Centre for Human Drug Research in the Netherlands. Algernon reports it has completed dosing the first group of the research program. After observing zero safety and tolerability problems, the safety review committee has issued approval for the research team to increase dosage for the next cohort. Below are some reasons why Algernon NeuroScience is investigating DMT for traumatic brain injury treatment. 

DMT has Potential to Treat TBI and Stroke

To support its TBI research program with DMT, Algernon NeuroScience has appointed Dr. Andrew Maas to provide guidance as a scientific and medical advisor. According to Dr. Mass, there’s utmost importance to enhance the recovery ability in patients diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. The global TBI expert adds that the role of neuroplasticity, which DMT has great potential, is a promising target. 

Preclinical studies of DMT show it has the potential to treat neurological conditions like stroke and TBI, as it can stimulate neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity, in simple terms, is the brain’s capacity to regenerate and form new connections. In a previous study of DMT for stroke, Algernon reported increased growth of cortical neurons by 40%. Other clinical studies found that DMT showed benefit in reactive oxygen species, neuroinflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and spreading depolarization. 

DMT Increases BDNF

The NIH says TBI occurs after forceful blows or bumps to the head. A person can also experience brain damage if an object pierces the skull and enters the brain. Whatever the cause of TBI, patients can experience short-term and long-term problems that affect brain function. Serious brain injuries lead to permanent disabilities or death. Naturally, physiological stress increases significantly, following traumatic brain injury. 

Since DMT is an agonist of the body’s natural defense system, or sigma-1, it helps reduce psychological stresses patients with brain injury often experience. Furthermore, DMT boosts brain derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that plays a significant role in neural repair and growth. When someone has a brain injury following an accident or blow to the head, the natural levels of BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) decrease. As the brain works to compensate for the injury, TrkB mRNA, a receptor that BDNF binds to increases. Exercise-induced circulation of BDNF boosts recovery after TBI and improves cognitive function. 

Therapeutic Potential of DMT

DMT can ease the symptoms of brain injury, a key factor influencing Algernon to experiment its potential in treatment for head injuries. In most cases, mild brain injuries have a temporary effect on brain cells, while serious injuries often result in bleeding, torn tissues, bruising, and other physical damage to the brain. Symptoms vary, from headaches to problems with speech, fatigue, vomiting, and sensory issues, like ringing in the ears, unpleasant taste in the mouth, and blurred vision. 

Patients with mild TBI also lose consciousness, have concentration and memory problems, feel anxious or depressed, and have difficulty sleeping. For those with severe brain injury, persistent headaches, repeated vomiting, convulsions, loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, and coma are common symptoms. The effects patients experience following a head injury change how they feel, think, and behave for the rest of their lives. The physical and financial implications of brain damage are worse when the cause of injury is someone else’s negligence. 

In such instances, many individuals file lawsuits for traumatic brain injury to receive compensation for their pain, medical expenses, and lost wages. While settlement for TBI might not reverse the damages, patients can pay for DMT-assisted therapy. DMT has a psychedelic effect when ingested and binds itself to a range of receptors in the brain to promote repair and growth of damaged brain cells. Because of its psychedelic effects, researchers believe DMT can treat various neurological conditions like depression, head injuries, and stroke. 

Lack of Approved Drugs for Brain Injury

Based on the Glasgow coma scale, in traumatic brain injury incidents classified as mild, 50% of patients have symptoms that don’t resolve after six months. The number of mild traumatic brain injuries is surging every year as more people get access to vehicles that have become more associated with road accidents. While brain injury has become common, there are no drugs approved to treat mild or chronic cases. Several reasons explain why there are no drugs for TBI, and one of them is that medication tested to treat brain injuries lose their efficacy before patients receive treatment. 

The complexity of the therapeutic time window for TBI patients is another reason why there’s no effective drug available. Typically, the complex therapeutic time window for TBI results in multiple drug targets appearing and disappearing with various kinetics. Many cases of traumatic brain injuries are mild, and many patients delay treatment until their symptoms don’t decline. 

For drugs to treat moderate-to-severe brain injuries, they must have a high efficacy of up to 12 hours. The lack of approved medicine for treating brain injuries is a factor driving AGN Neuro to investigate DMT. In fact, Algernon plans to be the first pharma company to explore the potential of DMT for brain injuries in humans. Phase 2 of clinical trials of DMT will start in the last quarter of 2023. 

DMT has gained a lot of scientific interest in the past as a potential treatment for neurological health problems. Algernon aims to be the first pharmaceutical company in the world to test DMT for traumatic brain injury treatment. Key factors fueling Algernon’s investigation of DMT for TBI include lack of approved medicine for head injuries, DMT’s therapeutic properties, and DMT’s ability to increase brain derived neurotrophic factor.