Published on
November 17, 2021

Daniel Clauw | Scientific Advisor, Tryp Therapeutics

What has your scientific and research background been focused on.  

Our group has been focused on understanding the underlying mechanisms and most effective treatments for chronic pain conditions.  We have been specifically focused on the role the central nervous system plays in all chronic pain conditions.

What first got you excited about psychedelics and their therapeutic potential?  

I must admit that I was not an early advocate of this approach, and that other people in our department like George Mashour and Richard Harris were earlier enthusiasts about this approach than I.  But the science is compelling and both pre-clinical and clinical studies are suggesting that psychedelics might be effective in treating pain - and I follow the science.

Why are some traditional treatments for fibromyalgia ineffective and where is the opportunity for psychedelics to address this?  

The traditional drug treatments for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions all work in ways wherein you would expect that individuals would need to keep taking the drug to continue to have beneficial effects - and this is what we see. All of our drugs have a lot of side effects.   One of the big advantages of psychedelics is that we may be able give individuals a few doses of the drug and get long-lasting effects - which would be a game changer since we have nothing at all in pain right now that would be considered "disease modifying".

What’s led you to believe that psilocybin can be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia?

I have had the opportunity to be involved in the development process of all three currently approved drugs for fibromyalgia, and treatments available to patients. I’ve seen first-hand what limited effectiveness they have. Fibromyalgia continues to be a very difficult disease to treat given the nature of the disease. Psilocybin has been proven to be safe and tolerable and there is historical data supporting psychedelics being able to address the mechanism of pain that comes from the central nervous system. Psilocybin’s impact on the brain and neural connections relative to pain could be the key to alleviating this disease. 

What is the most common misconception you hear about psychedelics?

Psychedelics still have a stigma attached to them in some parts of the medical community due to their recreational history.  We are fortunate that the FDA is now willing to consider these compounds for their clinical merit given the well-established safety profile for compounds like psilocybin—a much safer alternative, in fact, to opioids and many other currently prescribed treatments that have significant addictive characteristics.

What do you believe is the most important thing for people to understand about the future of psychedelics as medicine?

I think it’s important for people to understand that clinicians and researchers are approaching the medical potential of psychedelics just as we would any other non-psychedelic, therapeutic candidate with respect to the rigor of our studies.  And although the psychedelic drug development sector has garnered a lot of attention recently, drug development and associated regulatory processes can take time and are not always linear.

How do you view Tryp's role in psychedelic drug development for chronic pain indications?

I chose to collaborate with Tryp and to join the company’s Scientific Advisory Board because I believe they represent a differentiated and scientifically sound approach to psychedelic drug development. Tryp’s Phase 2a study in fibromyalgia will be one of the first in-human studies evaluating psilocybin for the disease, and the company’s approach to addressing certain pain indications at their point of origin in the central nervous system has the potential to improve the lives of millions of patients.