New study to assess the therapeutic potential of psilocybin on autistic adults

Summary: A new study will explore how psilocybin affects different serotonin networks and function in the brains of autistic adults.

Source: King’s College London

The study will explore how psilocybin affects specific brain pathways in autistic adults, and is the first-ever mechanistic study of psilocybin in autistic adults.

He will investigate whether there is a difference in the function of brain serotonin networks in autistic and non-autistic adults.

Researchers will use a range of imaging techniques and behavioral tasks to examine how the serotonergic system is modulated by psilocybin COMP360. This is a researcher-initiated exploratory study that will take place at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London.

The study is co-sponsored by King’s IoPPN and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. It will welcome 70 adult participants, including 40 autistic people and 30 non-autistic people.

The study is led by Professor Grainne McAlonan, Professor of Translational Neuroscience at King’s IoPPN, and led by Tobias Whelan, PhD student at King’s and researcher at COMPASS Pathways.

Tobias is also supervised by Professor Declan Murphy and Dr Nicolaas Puts of King’s IoPPN, who are the study’s investigators. Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen and Dr Carrie Allison of the University of Cambridge Autism Research Center are external collaborators and advisors.

“I am delighted that COMPASS Pathways is supporting our research into the brain science of neurodiversity.

“Our long-term goal is to provide more and better choices for people with autism and people with related conditions. Before embarking on clinical trials, we really need to understand the brain mechanisms in people with autism,” said said Professor Grainne McAlonan, King’s IoPPN

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Professor McAlonan has previously led other autism studies at King’s IoPPN. Klara, a participant in an earlier study, said: “My son and I both have autism, and sometimes it can be difficult. I am happy that researchers are studying what differentiates an autistic brain from a neurotypical brain.

This shows a blurry blue figure in the form of a person
He will investigate whether there is a difference in the function of brain serotonin networks in autistic and non-autistic adults. Image is in public domain

“It gives me hope that in the future, we may discover new ways to support individuals and families who may need help, and that society is more accepting of neurodiverse people.”

Dr Guy Goodwin, Chief Medical Officer of COMPASS Pathways, said: “We are delighted to fund this groundbreaking research, the first of its kind to use psilocybin in adults with autism. We hope this study improves the understanding of how the serotonergic system is involved in autism.

“For autistic people seeking treatment for symptoms that cause distress, this research may be the first step to finding new options.”

About this news from research in psychopharmacology and ASD

Author: Patrick O’Brien
Source: King’s College London
Contact: Patrick O’Brien – King’s College London
Image: Image is in public domain

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