New multi-centre clinical trial to investigate psilocybin therapy in anorexia nervosa | Press releases

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New multi-centre clinical trial to investigate psilocybin therapy in anorexia nervosa

Researchers and clinicians from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London and will be part of a new trial involving four centres that will explore the potential therapeutic benefits of psilocybin for adults living with anorexia nervosa.

The trial is being conducted with the support of COMPASS Pathways, a mental health care company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health.

Dr Hubertus Himmerich, Consultant Psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Clinical Senior Lecturer at IoPPN and and co-lead of the trial at King's College London site added: "Up to the present day, no psychopharmacological agent is approved for the treatment of anorexia nervosa; and there is no indication that traditional psychiatric medications have the capability to improve the core psychological symptoms of anorexia. 

“Psilocybin, however, might be a game changer, because it could have the potential to shift thinking patterns and behaviour in those who have had anorexia for a long time."

Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental illness where people try to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating enough food or exercising too much, or both. It is most common in young women and typically starts in the mid-teens. Globally, about 2.2% of women and 0.3% of men experience anorexia nervosa at some point in their lives, but there are currently no approved pharmacological treatments.

The upcoming trial will compare the effects of 25 mg and 1 mg of investigational COMP360 psilocybin when administered with psychological support, in 60 adult participants with anorexia nervosa.

The King’s IoPPN/South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust partnership is one of four world-leading research institutes that are part of the study, alongside Columbia University Irving Medical Center, University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Sheppard Pratt.

Find out more about the trial

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