Canadian University Grants License to Study Psilocybin Mushrooms
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Canadian University Grants License to Study Psilocybin Mushrooms

On Oct. 25, Dr. Max Jones (Department of Plant Agriculture) and Dr. Gale Bozzo (UG’s Ontario Agricultural College) were granted a Health Canada “dealer’s license”. This license allows the cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms and is the first university in Canada to receive it. Jones stated that they are excited about the approval. “This will allow us to better understand these psychedelic mushrooms, examine what other functional compounds might be present, and provide well-characterized, chemically consistent material to preclinical and possibly clinical evaluation.” Jones was also granted a license to study marijuana in November 2018. Jones claims that there are more than 200 types of mushrooms that can make psilocybin. Jones stated in a press release that “these species aren’t that closely related; it’s diverse.” Scientists like me are left wondering: What else are these mushrooms producing?” It’s possible that 200 species produce a compound that affects human brains. This makes it more likely that they are also producing other interesting compounds. Psilocybin therapy is a popular treatment for depression, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Melissa Perreault, Professor at the Ontario Veterinary College’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, and another researcher involved in the study, believes there is a specific function they are looking into. Perreault stated that while there are many people already working with psilocybin and other compounds in mushrooms, they are interested in their potential biological activity and whether they have any therapeutic benefit alone or in combination with it. Her goal is to study the signaling pathways that may be affected by psilocybin. Perreault stated that if there is any therapeutic value in these compounds we would then bring them to some of the models I use, such as those used for studying specific aspects of autism or depression, to examine their therapeutic effects. Jones concluded by saying that increased access to mushrooms will enable more research to be done. Jones stated that there is a need for a large supply of mushrooms. We want to create a supply of mushrooms that can be used in preclinical and possibly clinical trials. In which genetics and cultivation methods will be fully disclosed to researchers as well as the public, the press release also mentions that the researchers are working on a synthetic method for growing mushrooms. The majority of mushrooms are grown on manure or grains. However, the popularity of pilocybin mushrooms is growing. In January, a single organization presented evidence that mushrooms have therapeutic properties and announced its intention for the substance to be rescheduled under the United Nations 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances Act. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in August showed that psilocybin can be used to treat alcohol addiction. The University of Copenhagen began investigating the effects of psilocybin on obesity in mid-September. Johns Hopkins University has announced a study that will examine how psilocybin helps patients quit smoking. The substance has been used as a muse by many high-profile musicians like Bjork, Ellie Goulding and Kid Cudi. A few other states will also be presenting psilocybin exemptions on the November ballot.

 

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