Combining Traditional Therapies with Psychedelics: SiloPharma Targeting CNS and Neurological Disorders
February 4th, 2021
Exclusive, Psychedelics, Top Story
“Psychedelics” is a buzz word on Wall Street, but much like legal cannabis or bitcoin and blockchain a decade ago, it remains greatly misunderstood as the market emerges. There was a time when psychedelics were only perceived as part of the illicit drug culture. That stigma is disappearing. Loaded with promise, the burgeoning market includes some of the brightest minds in medical science. With investment support to use the latest technology, researchers are taking a close look at active molecules in psychedelics to see how they can serve areas of unmet medical needs today.
New therapeutic opportunities with psychedelics are underpinned by centuries of historic use in traditional medicines backstopped by more recent pre-clinical and clinical research demonstrating the positive effects to help people suffering from hard-to-treat diseases. The door to the future gets kicked wide open when investors understand that traditional psychedelics are just the start; combination therapies and analogs are where the market is heading.
The new age is being escorted in by upstarts like Silo Pharma, Inc. (OTCQB: SILO), which has set its sights on merging traditional drugs with psychedelics to address diseases and conditions notoriously resistant to today’s drugs, including Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and others. To address these diseases, Englewood Cliffs, NJ-based Silo has assembled an esteemed group of key opinion leaders, researchers and capital markets vets on its team, and has the added value of a close working relationship with a prominent university.
It All Starts with the Team
Seeing the psychedelic market opportunity, Silo was founded last year by Eric Weisblum, a former NASDAQ listed biotech company board member with over 25 years’ experience on Wall Street.
Weisblum is keeping staff lean, recruiting an impressive board of directors and a scientific advisory board that includes Dr. Matthew W. Johnson, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. Widely published, Dr. Johnson is a world-renown expert on psychedelics, drugs and addiction. In 2008, Dr. Johnson made a substantial contribution to today’s psychedelics movement when he published psychedelic safety guidelines. Subsequently, amongst many other accomplishments, he published the first research on psychedelic treatment of tobacco addiction in 2014, and the largest study of psilocybin in cancer distress in 2016. He has been interviewed for mainstream media outlets, including 60 Minutes, CNN, New York Times, Fox Business and many more.
Interesting the Dr. Johnson is a professor at Johns Hopkins, which in late 2019 launched the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research backed by $17 million in private donations. The center has even recently captured the attention of the UFC, which is looking into research of psychedelic therapy for fighter’s mental health.
Others on the SAB include Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff, is chair and professor with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, Dr. Peter Hendricks, Associate Professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Health and Behavior department where he has led research on psychedelics, and Dr. Josh Woolley, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.
UMB: A Valuable Partner
Weisblum’s experience in licensing has been instrumental in the advancement of Silo. Last summer, the University of Maryland, Baltimore granted Silo an exclusive option to utilize central nervous system-homing peptides for research into multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neuroinflammatory pathology. That agreement has been followed by several others between UMB and Silo.
These include a sponsored research agreement with UMB relating to a study to examine use of a novel peptide-guided drug delivery approach for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The purpose of this study is to identify cell types that respond to a series of peptides and the interaction of drug-carrying liposomes with CNS tissue cells. The ultimate goal is to develop targeted drug delivery directly to the CNS to overcome shortcomings in today’s delivery methods to improve therapeutic outcomes.
This week, the company exercised its option with UMB for exclusive license of UMB patents for treating neuroinflammatory disease. This aligns with Silo’s mission to research new drugs for diseases like Parkinson’s and MS. While those indications alone are massive markets, it’s worth noting the neuroinflammatory disorders are also associated with TBI (traumatic brain injury) and aging.
“Management looks forward to sharing the preclinical study results of this Novel Homing Peptide upon completion of our initial study in connection with UMB,” commented Weisblum.
Outlicensing Brings in $1 Million
This month, Silo completed a licensing agreement with Aikido Pharma granting Aikido rights to specific Silo intellectual property to develop novel therapies for the treatment and complications of cancer. The IP, which covers using a novel peptide in combination with psilocybin as a therapeutic, is protected under Silo’s patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Psilocybin is the active ingredient in “magic” mushrooms that has long been heralded for its potential to treat a litany of diseases and conditions. It has grown quickly in popularity in micro-dosing form (meaning there is no psychedelic trip) for actively treating mental conditions like anxiety.
Per the agreement, Silo received a one-time cash payment of $500,000 and $500,000 worth of convertible preferred stock of Aikido. Should Aikido successfully develop and commercialize a product in the future, Silo will also be entitled to royalty payments on net sales.
More Studies Coming
While UMB and Aikido conduct work in MS and cancer, Silo is also working with Maastricht University of the Netherlands on research of psilocybin. The planned study is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of repeated low doses of psilocybin and LSD on cognitive and emotional dysfunctions in Parkinson’s disease and to understand its mechanism of action.
Objectives will be measured through patient’s ratings on well-being and effect, computer tasks assessing emotional and cognitive attention, and biological markets of neuroplasticity (hallmarks of Parkinson’s). The treatment response will further be analyzed to measure the effects on cognitive performance measures of memory and executive functioning, known to be impaired in Parkinson’s disease and emotion regulation Parkinson’s symptoms, as well as biological markers of well-being (immune system, cortisol).
To that point, investors and the medical community alike will be listening closely for updates on the study, including protocol, regulatory and clinical submissions and, most certainly, commencement of the study.
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