Dr. Marvin Hausman is the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for Nova Mentis.
Dr. Hausman is an Immunologist and Board-Certified Urological Surgeon with more than 30 years of drug research and development experience with various pharmaceutical companies, including Bristol-Myers International, Mead-Johnson Pharmaceutical Co., E.R. Squibb, Medco Research, and Axonyx.
What made you personally want to get involved in psychedelic research?
I have been actively involved in mushroom research for the past 10-12 years. Mushrooms are a unique part of the food kingdom and contain compounds that are not produced by humans or mammals. Some of these compounds are potent antioxidants and can reduce inflammatory reactions. It was a natural progression for me to become interested in psilocybin and tryptamine derivatives produced by certain mushrooms. “Created by Nature, Unlocked by Science.” The medical applications of psychedelics in chronic human disease needs to be researched further.
What do you believe is the most important thing for people to understand about the future of psychedelics as medicine?
Psychedelics are an integral part of the food kingdom via production within a food, mushrooms. As such, they deserve further research to determine why they are part of the life cycle. As an example, most scientists focus on the action of psilocybin on serotonin that is present within brain tissues and nerve cells. However, only 5 - 10% of serotonin is produced in the human brain; 90-95 % is produced in the peripheral body organs. In addition, serotonin cannot cross the blood brain barrier. What role does serotonin play in peripheral body organs such as the intestines, liver, pancreas, etc.? We need to study the effects of psilocybin in the rest of the body and not just the brain!
What is the most common misconception you hear about psychedelics?
The idea that psychedelics only work on brain cells and brain tissues. They may play an important role in other bodily functions and the development of chronic disease conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, liver disease, etc. Scientists need to look for receptors in peripheral body organs that react to psilocybin and tryptamine derivatives.
At Nova Mentis, you’re leading research into how Psychedelics can help those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Can you talk a little bit about how you think Psychedelics can help those with ASD?
Before talking about psychedelics, we should define what is autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Why is it called a ‘spectrum’? Is it because there are subsets of the disease which have not been well-defined? If one does not know, the easiest approach is to put everything in a basket and call it a ‘spectrum.’ Our research approach is to diagnose specific types of autistic conditions by studying diagnostic inflammatory markers as well as genetic bacteriological changes in ASD individuals and animals. We combine therapeutics and diagnostics. Subjective behavioral results with psychedelic therapy can be further proven by showing complementary changes in diagnostic biomarkers. Moreover, dosing of drugs can be fine-tuned by measuring changes in biologic markers.
What early scientific validation have you seen that psychedelics could help patients with Autism?
There are anecdotal statements about positive psychedelic responses in ASD. Our company is currently using a scientifically accepted animal model to test responses to psilocybin therapy. We intend to begin human studies once a drug dose is established that modulates autistic behavioral problems. We hope to begin Phase 1 human safety studies sometime in 2021.
As a whole, you are focusing on Neuroinflammatory diseases, how could psychedelics change how we treat diseases like Parkinson, Alzheimer’s, and Traumatic Brain injuries?
These neurologic disorders are similar in the fact that neuroinflammation plays a key causative role. The diagnostic and therapeutic approach that we are using in ASD, as described above, will also apply to these other neuroinflammatory conditions.
Which current studies are you most excited about and why?
We are excited about our preclinical studies using the ASD VPA rat model that was established by Dr. Viviana Trezza, Italian Neuroscientist. This ASD model is well-accepted by other neuroscientists and we are scheduled to begin psilocybin treatment of these ASD animals in February 2021.
How do you feel about all the recent hype and investment interest in the psychedelic space?
It appears that investors are trying to make commercial gains based on statements regarding breakthrough status being applied to the psychedelic space. It is interesting to note that M&A activities have recently increased as early companies with minimal scientific data are making moves to justify their out of touch market valuation.
Who is someone doing important work in the world of psychedelics you think more people should be aware of?
We have established scientific relationships with opinion leaders and scientists in the neuroinflammatory field as well as experts in biostatistics and artificial intelligence. These individuals will be identified as we move forward with our ASD program.