Creso Pharma (ASX: CPH) target acquisition company Halucenex Life Sciences Inc has entered into an advisory agreement with US-based biotechnology firm Growing Together Research Inc (GTR) to explore the genome sequencing of natural psilocybe, also known as magic mushrooms.
Founded in 2017, GTR comprises a multi-disciplinary team of geneticists, computer scientists and bioinformatics specialists with a focus on exploring the potential of the Cannabis sativa (hemp) organism.
Under the terms of the new agreement, the companies will create an intellectual property portfolio to assist in maximising the active ingredients in various strains of magic mushrooms and explore which elements have the best efficacy when being used to treat specific mental illnesses such as treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Pending the receipt of a dealer licence amendment for Halucenex, both parties will focus on sequencing and analysing the genomes of magic mushrooms, particularly the Psilocybe cubensis strain.
The amendment was announced in March and will allow Halucenex to produce psychedelic extracts from psilocybin mushrooms.
It follows an agreement with medical and recreational extraction specialist Advanced Extraction Systems Inc giving Halucenex access to the high-quality extracts for its proposed research.
The genome analysis with GTR will focus on interpreting the genetic determinants of the target compounds in psilocybe strains, as well as any potential friction points during cultivation.
Initial data from the sequencing is expected to assist Halucenex with treatment development initiatives and generate higher yield from extraction and cultivation of the psilocybes.
It will give Halucenex a better understanding of psilocybe components and allow for the incorporation of these components with psychedelic substances including LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), ketamine and MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy) when treating particular mental health conditions.
Halucenex plans to pursue the creation of optimised psychedelic organisms, which will be used solely by the company or potentially licensed to other companies for a royalty payment.
In the long-term, the agreement with GTR will seek to create an entire set of Psilocybe cubensis phenotypes tailored to specific-use cases including the extraction of compounds from a fungal biomass standpoint and the provision of whole mushrooms to medical professionals to administer in a standardised format.
Clinical trial schedule
Creso non-executive chairman Adam Blumenthal said the agreement will lay the foundation for the company’s clinical trial schedule and future treatment development initiatives.
“This agreement with GTR will provide [us] with a scientifically-backed approach, which allows for a better understanding of the important components of psilocybin mushrooms and how particular components can be used most effectively,” he said.
“We are very confident that the genome sequencing initiatives and our strategic decision to expand the range of compounds being researched will unlock a number of opportunities for [Halucenex] in the future.”
Mr Blumenthal said data gathered from the collaboration would help promote alternative treatments for mental disorders.
“As the medical community advances its research and clinical trials with psilocybin mushrooms, comparisons with various strains of mushrooms will be made for mental and physical disorders and addictions,” he said.
“Once it is known which strains work best for which disorder or addiction, these strains will be sequenced and we will be able to optimise our growth to meet the increasing demand for alternative treatments.”
In March, Creso Pharma announced it would make moves to acquire Canada-based Halucenex, which is an established psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP) company focused on developing therapeutics for mental health illnesses.
The $10 million deal will see Creso transform from a medical cannabis company to an integrated natural medicines provider, and mark the first wholly-owned psychedelics company on the ASX.