Prominent global biotech investors including Canadian businessman Greg Bailey and British entrepreneur Jim Mellon have invested in Beckley Psytech, a new company developing a pipeline of psychedelic drugs into licensed pharmaceutical medicines for treating psychiatric and neurological diseases.
Bailey, CEO of bio-pharma development company Juvenescence, and Mellon, a renowned international investor and Juvenescence chairman, are supporting a $3.8m Series A round which will be used to scale the business, build out the team and progress drugs through clinical trials. They join founding investor Chris Schnarr, a former director of world-leading diversified cannabis company Canopy Growth, as shareholders.
The Beckley Psytech team comprises talent from across the psychedelic and drug discovery fields. It boasts an executive team led by Marc Wayne, a pioneer of the Canadian medical cannabis industry, as Chairman of Board and CEO Cosmo Feilding Mellen, a serial drug development entrepreneur specialising in the science of psychoactive drugs. Dr Steve Wooding, the former head of global commercial strategy for Janssen, Johnson and Johnson’s pharmaceutical division, is the company’s Chief Scientific Officer.
Beckley Psytech cofounders Cosmo Feilding-Mellen and Lady Amanda Feilding. Credit: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
The prevalence of mental health and central nervous system (CNS) disorders is growing year on year, with roughly 1 in 4 people1 around the world affected by these conditions in their lifetimes, and with mental health set to become the biggest disease burden globally, potentially exacerbated by the current pandemic. Existing treatments are often sub-optimal and may cause treatment limiting side-effects2, however currently controlled “psychedelic” drugs such as psilocybin and MDMA have shown early promise in the treatment of debilitating mental and neurological disorders.
Beckley Psytech is developing a drug pipeline of psychedelic medicines with significant commercial potential to address this unmet clinical need. The company is borne out of a strategic partnership with the Beckley Foundation, a renowned non-profit NGO with a 20 year track record of advancing scientific research into psychedelic medicine.
The Foundation initiated the first ever brain-imaging study of psilocybin, the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’, and, subsequently, the first clinical trial of the drug for treatment resistant depression (TRD) at Imperial College London. In addition to its own pipeline, Beckley Psytech will have first opportunity to support the commercialisation of the Foundation’s intellectual property and will allocate a share of its revenues to fund the Foundation’s ongoing research as part of its commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Beckley Psytech will use the Series A funding to advance its lead programme exploring the use of synthetic 5-MeO-DMT, a unique psychedelic agent with a short duration of action, in the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases. The funding will help with scaling up resources to develop novel pharmaceutical formulations and delivery methods for synthetic 5-MeO-DMT, as well as to progress preclinical and clinical trials.
Marc Wayne, Chairman of Board, Beckley Psytech, says: “The unrealised potential of psychedelic medicines creates a significant global market opportunity, which our world-class team will address by advancing a pipeline of assets to deliver transformative care to mental health patients.
“Beckley Psytech will leverage a network of medical, scientific and commercial connections to transform under-researched psychedelic agents into fully licensed medicines. Millions of people worldwide suffer from intractable, chronic mental and neurological conditions, and we believe our pipeline has the potential to significantly improve the quality of treatment in these vital areas.”
Cosmo Feilding Mellen, co-founder and CEO, Beckley Psytech, says: “Our diverse and experienced leadership team is perfectly positioned to deliver on our mission of making effective and safe psychedelic medicines available to patients in need and integrating these treatments into mainstream medical practice.
“This investment comes at an exciting time as we look to build on our progress into an area with transformational potential for society. The capital will enable us to put more resources into exploring 5-MeO-DMT and creating a viable pathway for it to enter the market, as well as the exploration of other agents.”
₁WHO World Health Report [https://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/]
2Royal College of Psychiatrists ‘Position statement on antidepressants and depression’
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Notes to Editor:
Founded in 2019, Beckley Psytech is a for-profit company dedicated to helping patients suffering from neurological and psychiatric disorders by developing a pipeline of psychedelic compounds into licensed pharmaceutical medicines. Our vision, supplemented by our partnership with the Beckley Foundation, is for clinically validated psychedelic medicines to be integrated into modern medical practice in order to help patients in need around the world suffering with these profoundly debilitating conditions.
Since its creation by Amanda Feilding in 1998, the Beckley Foundation has been at the forefront of global drug policy reform and scientific research into psychoactive substances. We collaborate with leading scientific and political institutions worldwide to design and develop ground-breaking research and global policy initiatives.
The Beckley Foundation’s purpose is two-fold:
To scientifically investigate the effects of psychoactive substances on the brain and consciousness in order to harness their potential benefits and minimise their potential harms; learn more about consciousness and brain function; and discover and explore new avenues for the treatment of illnesses.
To achieve evidence-based changes in global drug policies in order to reduce the harms brought about by the unintended negative consequences of current drug policies; and develop improved policies based on health, harm reduction, cost-effectiveness, and human rights.
The Beckley Psytech team
Lady Amanda Feilding – Director, Chair Scientific Advisory
Cosmo Fielding Mellen – Director, CEO
Marc Wayne – Chairman of Board
Dr Steve Wooding, MD – Director, Chief Scientific Officer
Dr Fiona Dunbar, MD – Chief Medical Officer
Tim Mason – Chief Development Officer
Michael Norris, FCMA – Chief Financial Officer
Becky Hutchinson, MBA – Commercial Director
Kalpaa Sawant – Director of Clinical Operations
Beckley Psytech investors
Dr Gregory Bailey