Investment Fund Seeks Cultural Reset for Psychedelics

INN spent some time with one of the leaders of a new investment fund dedicated to the psychedelics opportunity.

As the psychedelics investment community begins to come into focus, one association is working to create an all-around hub for investors looking to enter the space.

The Conscious Fund is a relatively new group in the investment arena, and it’s looking to devote its time and money to the growing psychedelics industry.

In an exclusive interview with the Investing News Network (INN), Michael Hoyos, co-founding partner, Americas, with the Conscious Fund, talked about the team’s goals moving forward and just how potent investing in psychedelics can be.

The fund was set up by venture capital investors Henri Saint-Cassia and Richard Skaife alongside Hoyos late in 2019. It is based out of Malta, where it received regulatory approval earlier this year, just before the world went into lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19.

The Conscious Fund has completed investments in various psychedelics operations, including public entity Numinus Wellness (TSXV:NUMI) and Peter Thiel-backed ATAI Life Sciences.

The goal of the investment fund, Hoyos told INN, is to have 15 holdings totaling over US$10 million in seed-stage capital by the end of the year.

In his opinion, the psychedelics investment market is currently split into four main categories:

  • Pharmaceutical/biotech startups: Companies looking to develop new drugs based on psychedelic compounds created in a lab to aid in the treatment of mental illnesses.
  • Clinics: Treatment programs for patients made available via legally available psychedelics like ketamine.
  • Ancillary industries supporting psychedelics: Medical devices, digital therapeutics tools, media companies and more.
  • Psychedelics-touching operations: In this case, novelty retreats offering the use of psychedelics as part of a larger experience.

Leaders hope to build more than just an investment fund

At the onset of any new investment opportunity, there are likely to be people who want to establish themselves as bonafide experts who other investors and observers can look up to for guidance. The psychedelics space is no different in this regard.

While contending with the nebulous legal framework surrounding psychedelic drug candidates and substances, investors also have to perform traditional top-down business due diligence on the ever-increasing number of companies vying for attention and dollars.

That’s where the Conscious Fund hopes to come in. Hoyos told INN that the “grand vision” for him and his colleagues is to go beyond the investment fund and to establish an all-around platform.

As the co-founders manage their investment vehicle, they’ve also set a goal of creating an environment for those interested in the psychedelics space to come together and learn.

Alongside an informational blog dedicated to psychedelics knowledge, the Conscious Fund has also created Microdose Psychedelic Insights, a psychedelics group that hosts regular events online for those interested in learning more about the space.

Adding a psychedelics-related job board to its website is another way the Conscious Fund is aiming to set itself up as a hub for those within the industry, or looking to jump aboard.

Desire to offer education comes from fear of “cannabification” of psychedelics

When chatting with Hoyos, it became clear that he and his colleagues want to try to help the psychedelics industry as much as they can. He repeatedly said the group wants to share knowledge and connections among those interested, even if the fund doesn’t directly benefit.

This drive to steer the conversation with experts and industry insiders appears to be at the core of the work done by the group and its events. And overall there’s a specific reason the three investors are taking this approach.

“What happened with cannabis is you had had this green rush,” said Hoyos. “An evolving regulatory landscape in certain jurisdictions that led to a massive influx of people wanting to get involved with the space, but largely they mostly just saw it as a way to make a quick buck.”

The investor said cannabis is an example of a market rush with people chasing “wild valuations” based on substantial projections. Hoyos told INN that the phrase “cannabification” was coined by his business partner Saint-Cassia.

He believes the rush of capital into cannabis served to balloon the industry, and the recipients did not act as “good stewards” for capital.

Hoyos didn’t pull any punches when breaking down his view on the rush for cannabis investments. In his eyes, the onslaught was not defined by proper valuations and instead prices were being defined by “hopes and dreams.”

While the two industries are often joined in conversation, experts have emphasized that psychedelics investments are poised to operate at an entirely different speed than cannabis.

What’s at the core of the psychedelics investment opportunity?

The most promising psychedelics investments right now operate in the drug development market, a segment notorious for being capital intensive and taking years for completion. But Hoyos said investors should be encouraged about the upcoming results in the space.

The investor told INN that a wave of approvals will likely arrive later in the decade as multiple research trials are being launched this year. However, some of the most advanced trials are set to see results in the next 18 months, according to Hoyos.

“For investing in the space, I think the full value will be realized in the longer term, but there will be opportunities for exit liquidity events a lot sooner,” he added.

The costly proposal of researching and creating a drug that meets the standards of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may take more effort and capital than what the current batch of psychedelic participants can manage, so in the longer term there may be acquisition plays.

“I would say probably for investors getting in now, many of them likely won’t have to go through the full FDA approval process to realize in order to monetize their investment,” he said.

Ethical investment at the core of the Conscious Fund

As part of their involvement in the psychedelics industry, the leaders of the Conscious Fund set up a list of pledges that will rule future returns and gains in psychedelics investing.

This list of promises includes a mandate to give back two separate 5 percent returns. One will be set up for “advancing causes that advance humanity’s collective consciousness,” with a general guidance to support indigenous communities around the world.

Hoyos told INN part of this cause relates to initiatives set up by Dennis McKenna, who is a member of the fund’s advisory board, and founder of the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy.

“With the help of our ethics advisor, we plan to help create programming and initiatives at the academy that support the work of indigenous communities,” Hoyos told INN in an email.

The other 5 percent will go back to the fund’s portfolio companies. “We want to go beyond the traditional kind of venture capital model,” Hoyos said.

The psychedelics industry and the capital markets are beginning to form the bonds of what may be a long-lasting and meaningful relationship, and while it may be easy to think of the influx of capital as a way for an alternative drug scene to become a new corporate standard, Hoyos told INN he believes many legitimately want to help the industry grow.

“I think the interesting thing about these substances is that beyond the obvious therapeutic and medical applications that we’re seeing, I think on a personal level they have this kind of tremendous capacity to (create) personal development and empathy,” Hoyos said.

“I think that’s helped a lot of folks that I’ve spoken to feel almost like a certain responsibility to help this industry flourish and develop in the right way,” he said.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: Numinus Wellness is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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Positive topline results validated by additional analyses - Patient improvements beyond reduction of depression symptoms - Further insights into timing and circumstance of adverse events demonstrate COMP360 psilocybin therapy was generally well-tolerated London, UK 1 December 2021 COMPASS Pathways plc a mental health care company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health, ...

- Positive topline results validated by additional analyses

- Patient improvements beyond reduction of depression symptoms

- Further insights into timing and circumstance of adverse events demonstrate COMP360 psilocybin therapy was generally well-tolerated

London, UK 1 December 2021 COMPASS Pathways plc (Nasdaq: CMPS) ("COMPASS"), a mental health care company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health, today announced further results from its groundbreaking phase IIb clinical trial of COMP360 psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Additional analyses of primary and secondary endpoints validated topline findings and provided more insights into safety data. Analyses of exploratory measures including anxiety, self-reported depression, positive and negative affect, and functioning, showed greater improvements for patients receiving a 25mg dose of COMP360 psilocybin compared with those receiving a 1mg dose after three weeks, both with psychological support. Further analysis is ongoing and full trial results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The data will be reviewed with regulators early next year. The objective of the trial was to find the appropriate dose for a larger, pivotal phase III programme, which COMPASS expects to begin in 2022.

Professor Guy Goodwin, Chief Medical Officer, COMPASS Pathways, said: "Our additional analyses underline the robustness of our findings that a single high dose of COMP360 psilocybin, given in conjunction with psychological support, led to a rapid and sustained response for many patients. This phase IIb study was designed to determine the optimal COMP360 dose for our phase III programme, evaluating safety and efficacy at the primary endpoint at week 3. Additionally, we observed consistent improvement in measures of anxiety, positive and negative affect, quality of life, daily functioning, cognition, and self-reported depression. We believe this could make a tremendous difference to patients suffering with treatment-resistant depression, who have few options available to them. Remember, a quarter of the 25mg group maintained response, as measured by the MADRS, at 12 weeks after a single administration with no other antidepressant medication. This finding in itself is unprecedented."

COMPASS reported topline data from this trial last month, which investigated three doses of COMP360 psilocybin (1mg, 10mg, 25mg) in 233 patients with TRD. The results showed that a single 25mg dose of COMP360 demonstrated a highly statistically significant and clinically relevant reduction in depressive symptom severity after three weeks, with a rapid and durable treatment response. The 25mg group vs the 1mg group showed a -6.6 difference on the MADRS* depression scale at week 3 (p

As well as looking at clinician-rated depression severity on the MADRS, the trial explored other aspects which are recognised as being important for patients with TRD - and essential to recovery - including positive and negative affect, anxiety, self-rated depression severity, quality of life, functioning and cognition. These exploratory measures also showed that patients in the 25mg dose group of COMP360 psilocybin therapy reported benefits on those measures over those in the 1mg group. On the PANAS* scale measuring positive and negative affect, patients in the 25mg group had a higher increase in positive affect (eg including feeling interested, excited, strong) and a greater decrease in negative affect (eg including feeling distressed, upset, afraid) on the day after COMP360 administration and at the questionnaire's final administration at week 3. On scales measuring anxiety (GAD-7*), self-rated depression (QIDS-SR-16*) and functioning (SDS* and WSAS*), a greater improvement was also shown at week 3, by patients in the 25mg group compared with the 1mg group.

A post-hoc analysis of the 19 sustained responders in the 25mg group found that changes in quality of life, self-reported depression severity, and functioning, were clinically meaningful, with mean scores for these patients returning to "normal" levels and maintained to 12 weeks, the end of the trial. Durability is being studied in a one-year follow-up study which is currently underway.

As noted in the topline data reported last month, COMP360 psilocybin was generally well-tolerated. Further analysis showed that there were no concerns with vital signs, ECG or clinical laboratory data in any of the treatment groups. The majority of treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) occurring on the day of COMP360 administration resolved on the same day or the day after (77.4%); most of these events were mild or moderate in nature, eg headache, nausea, fatigue. All TEAEs involving hallucination (which only occurred in the 25mg and 10mg groups) and illusion (which occurred in all groups) started on the day of administration and resolved on the same day. No events of this nature continued past the administration day.

TEAEs of suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviour and intentional self-injury were seen in all groups, as is regularly observed in a TRD population. Two thirds of the patients had previous thoughts of wishing to be dead, as assessed by a suicidality scale completed during patient screening; this included all patients reporting one of these adverse events, so all patients who experienced these events during the trial had said in patient screening that they had had suicidal thoughts prior to the trial. Further detailed case-by-case analysis of safety data found no evidence to suggest, at this time, a causal relationship between these reported adverse events and administration of COMP360. The events occurred in all treatment groups and at a range of onset times and durations; the majority occurred more than a week after the psilocybin session.

  • There was no difference between the three groups post-administration in scores from item 10 on the MADRS, which measures suicidality and was assessed by a blinded remote rater; mean scores across treatment groups were lower than baseline at all subsequent time points
  • 27 of the TEAEs of suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviour and intentional self-injury occurred across 17 patients, with seven patients in the 25mg group, six in the 10mg group, and four in the 1mg group
  • 14 of these events were reported as treatment-emergent serious adverse events (TESAEs); these occurred across nine patients, with four patients in the 25mg group, four patients in the 10mg group, and one in the 1mg group
  • The majority of these TESAEs (10 events out of 14) occurred at least one week after the COMP360 psilocybin session
  • All suicidal behaviours occurred at least one month after the psilocybin therapy session and all patients reporting these events were non responders at their last assessment prior to the event or at the time of the event

Professor Goodwin said: "Further understanding of the timing and circumstance of adverse events in the trial demonstrates that COMP360 psilocybin therapy was generally well-tolerated. More detailed analysis of the safety data supports our conclusion that there is no evidence to date to suggest a causal relationship between the serious adverse events of suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviour and self-injury, and administration of COMP360 psilocybin therapy. Unfortunately, these events occur unpredictably and are to be expected in this patient population."

He continued: "We are now taking all the data we have generated and using it to inform our clinical development programme so we can understand which patients we might be able to help and how we might help more of them. We will be discussing this with regulators early next year as part of our ongoing dialogue with them."

Sidney Zisook MD, Director of the University of California San Diego Residency Training Program, a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD, and a Principal Investigator on the trial, said: "Many of the participants in this study had suffered for years with severe and crippling depressive disorders despite multiple treatment trials with traditional antidepressant medications and therapies. To see so many experience a robust and sometimes persisting response - and a new, brighter, more positive attitude - during the course of the study, was immensely gratifying and hopeful."

Further detail on additional findings from exploratory measures

  • Affect : results from the PANAS (Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule) showed higher positive affect and lower negative affect changes from baseline in the 25mg vs 1mg groups at day 2 and week 3. For positive affect and negative affect, there was a least squares mean (95% confidence intervals) treatment difference favouring the 25mg vs 1mg group at week 3: 6.17 (3.53, 8.82) and -3.18 (-5.59, -0.77), respectively
  • Anxiety: changes from baseline in the GAD-7 (Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7 item scale) total score were greater in the 25mg group vs the 1mg group at week 3. For GAD-7, a least squares mean (95% confidence intervals) treatment difference favouring the 25mg vs 1mg group was found at week 3:  -1.79 (-3.35, -0.23)
  • Self-reported depression: changes from baseline in the QIDS-SR-16 (Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology - Self Rated - 16 item scale) total score were greater in the 25 mg group at weeks 1, 2 and 3, compared with the 1mg group. The least squares mean treatment difference (95% confidence intervals) at week 3 was -2.78 (-4.62, -0.95)
  • Functioning: changes from baseline in the SDS (Sheehan Disability Scale) and the WSAS (Work and Social Adjustment Scale) were greater in the 25mg group vs the 1mg group at week 3. There was a treatment difference of -6.49 (95% confidence interval = -9.52, -3.46) on the SDS 25mg vs 1mg at week 3 and a treatment difference of -5.11 (95% confidence interval = -8.39, -1.82) on the WSAS between the 25mg vs 1mg at week 3
  • Quality of life: no differences were seen between the groups on the EQ-5D-3L (EuroQol-5-Dimension-3-Level Scale) total score and EuroQoL-Visual Analogue Scale – all groups showed an improvement over time. On the EQ-5D-3L total score, the 25mg vs 1mg least squares mean treatment differences at week 3 was 0.06 (95% confidence intervals = -0.03, 0.15). On the EuroQoL Visual Analogue Scale, the 25mg vs 1mg treatment difference at week 3 was 6.77 (95% confidence interval = -0.37, 13.90). A post-hoc analysis of sustained responders in the 25mg group found that changes in quality of life were clinically meaningful, with mean scores in these patients returning to "normal" levels and maintained to 12 weeks
  • Cognition: no differences were seen between the groups on the DSST (Digit Symbol Substitution Test) – all groups showed an improvement over time. The least squares mean treatment difference between the 25mg vs 1mg groups at week 3 was 1.32 (95% confidence intervals = -1.00, 3.64)

-Ends-

Notes to editors:

About treatment-resistant depression (TRD)
More than 320 million people globally suffer with major depressive disorder (MDD) 1 , the leading cause of disability worldwide and one of the fastest growing mental health illnesses 2 . About a third of these patients - 100 million people - aren't helped by existing therapies and suffer with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) 3 . As many as 30% of these attempt suicide at least once during their lifetime 4 , 5 . TRD carries two to three times the medical costs of a non-TRD MDD patient, and patients with TRD have a higher all-cause mortality compared with non-TRD MDD patients 6 . The TRD population is by definition more difficult to treat and more likely to relapse than patients with major depressive disorder. In 2018, COMPASS received FDA Breakthrough Therapy designati on for its COMP360 psilocybin therapy for TRD.

About the COMP360 psilocybin therapy phase IIb study
This randomised, controlled, multicentre, double-blind phase IIb trial is the largest psilocybin therapy clinical trial ever conducted, with 233 patients from 10 countries in North America and Europe. 94% of the patients had no prior experience with psilocybin. The objective of the trial was to find the appropriate dose for a larger, pivotal phase III programme, which COMPASS expects to begin in 2022.

The trial assessed the safety and efficacy of COMP360 psilocybin therapy at three doses: 1mg, 10mg, 25mg. A total of 233 patients enrolled in the study and were randomised and blinded into three arms comprising 79 patients for each of the 25mg and 1mg doses, and 75 patients for the 10mg dose. Patients were followed up for 12 weeks. The trial used the Montgomery-Åsberg depression rating scale (MADRS), a widely used and accepted scale for assessing depression; assessments were made by an independent, blinded rater. The primary endpoint was the change in the MADRS total score from baseline to week 3.

 About COMPASS Pathways
COMPASS Pathways plc (Nasdaq: CMPS) is a mental health care company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health. Our focus is on improving the lives of those who are suffering with mental health challenges and who are not helped by current treatments. We are pioneering the development of a new model of psilocybin therapy, in which our proprietary formulation of synthetic psilocybin, COMP360, is administered in conjunction with psychological support. COMP360 has been designated a Breakthrough Therapy by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for treatment-resistant depression (TRD), and we have completed a phase IIb clinical trial of psilocybin therapy for TRD, in 22 sites across Europe and North America. This was the largest randomised, controlled, double-blind psilocybin therapy clinical trial ever conducted, and our topline data showed a statistically significant (p www.compasspathways.com

Availability of other information about COMPASS Pathways
Investors and others should note that we communicate with our investors and the public using our website (www.compasspathways.com), our investor relations website (ir.compasspathways.com), and on social media (LinkedIn), including but not limited to investor presentations and investor fact sheets, US Securities and Exchange Commission filings, press releases, public conference calls and webcasts. The information that we post on these channels and websites could be deemed to be material information. As a result, we encourage investors, the media, and others interested in us to review the information that is posted on these channels, including the investor relations website, on a regular basis. This list of channels may be updated from time to time on our investor relations website and may include additional social media channels. The contents of our website or these channels, or any other website that may be accessed from our website or these channels, shall not be deemed incorporated by reference in any filing under the Securities Act of 1933.

Forward-looking statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as "may", "might", "will", "could", "would", "should", "expect", "intend", "plan", "objective", "anticipate", "believe", "contemplate", "estimate", "predict", "potential", "continue" and "ongoing," or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words. Forward-looking statements include express or implied statements relating to, among other things, the safety or efficacy of COMP360 psilocybin therapy as a treatment for depression, COMPASS's expectations for the timing of its pivotal phase III programme and the potential for that or other trials to support regulatory filings and approvals, COMPASS's business strategy and goals, the future accessibility of COMP360 psilocybin therapy, COMPASS's ability to continue to advance its research, including COMP360, COMPASS's expectations regarding the benefits of its psilocybin therapy, including COMP360 and COMPASS's ability to advance new psychedelic compounds in other areas of unmet mental health need. The forward-looking statements in this press release are neither promises nor guarantees, and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, many of which are beyond COMPASS's control and which could cause actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements.

These risks, uncertainties, and other factors include, among others: preclinical research and clinical development is lengthy and uncertain, and therefore our preclinical studies and clinical trials may be delayed or terminated, or may never advance to or in the clinic; and those risks and uncertainties described under the heading "Risk Factors" in COMPASS's annual report on Form 20-F filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on 9 March 2021 and in subsequent filings made by COMPASS with the SEC, which are available on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. Except as required by law, COMPASS disclaims any intention or responsibility for updating or revising any forward-looking statements contained in this press release in the event of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements are based on COMPASS's current expectations and speak only as of the date hereof.

Enquiries
Media: Tracy Cheung, tracy@compasspathways.com, +44 7966 309024
Investors: Stephen Schultz, stephen.schultz@compasspathways.com, +1 401 290 7324

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