Dr. Hoyer has been involved in drug discovery at leading pharmaceutical companies and research institutions for the last 30 years. He holds numerous patents and has been published extensively in the field of medicinal chemistry and drug research. Dr. Hoyer has unparalleled expertise in computational chemistry enabled probe molecule design, drug design and optimization, synthetic planning and execution, evaluation of chemical novelty and intellectual property assessment and strategies. Dr. Hoyer is currently on the scientific advisory board at Mydecine Innovations Group.
You have been involved in pharmaceutical ventures and drug discovery for multiple decades. Can you tell us what first drew you into psychedelics as a potential therapeutic area?
This is an area of research with research barriers imposed for quite some time. We see now changes in policy and attitudes which will enable us to bring modern drug discovery into the field and move it forward with exciting discoveries and new therapies.
On a personal level, what have you found most exciting about psychedelics derived medicines and the impact they could have on mental healthcare, addiction and trauma?
It has been disappointing to see the slow progress in traditional CNS (Central Nervous System) therapeutics approaches as practiced in pharma. The psychedelic natural products give us alternative approaches and can address unmet needs that have stymied CNS therapeutics. I’m very optimistic with the progress that has been made in psychedelics and anticipate incredible growth in this area.
You have experience with some of the largest Pharma companies on the planet, including Pfizer and Novartis. What did you learn there about novel drug discovery that you are now able to bring in to the world of psychedelics?
Adapting any compound for clinical use requires one to understand the drug on a molecular level and anticipate development issues such as manufacture, stability, formulation, off-target effects and safety. Through the application of the principles of medicinal chemistry, we can address these issues and develop a product clinicians can use confidently.
You have joined the team at Mydecine. What drew you to the opportunity and what are you spending your time on building with them?
I was impressed with the competence and depth of the Mydecine team and my working with them has been completely enjoyable. They are working with major players in the field of psychedelics research and the team is able to identify new opportunities for collaboration and engagement. Currently, I am taking a deep look at psychedelics of interest to Mydecine, identifying new opportunities, developing intellectual property and setting research strategies.
Can you share some of the obstacles that you’ll have to overcome working with new types of psychedelics and new molecules?
As anyone in research will tell you, the efficacy of an agent can be complex on a receptor level and deciphering mechanisms of action responsible for any therapeutic effect challenging. Fortunately, the psychedelics have a deep history of past anecdotal use that informs more rigorous studies. This is a key advantage in providing strong proof of concept for particular indications.
What do you think most people still don’t understand about psychedelics and their therapeutic potential?
Past policy on the utility of psychedelics has been confused with dirty drugs, recreational abuse and unscientific conclusions made for political and societal reasons. Bringing serious study with well characterized agents is needed to make progress in identifying the appropriate illnesses and clinical environments in which effective treatments can be developed.
From a drug discovery perspective, what are you most excited about right now in your collaboration with Mydecine and what impact could it have long term?
The psychedelics we are currently focusing on have clear indications for specific illnesses and that provides our short term focus and growth. However, we believe there are many new opportunities to expand the use of psychedelics and the time is ripe to begin the research. We are able to anticipate potential issues that can hinder the development of psychedelics and find solutions. This includes the invention of new molecular entities and is the long view. Taking this long view will drive new discoveries and open up the field of CNS research.