- Compass Pathways Received an $80 Million Boost from Investors to Expand its Exploration of Psilocybin as a Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Depression
- The Psychedelics Mental Health Company Plans to Run Several Trials That Will Help Prepare its Psilocybin Therapy for Phase 3 Study
- In 2018, Compass Received FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for its Psilocybin Therapy
Compass Pathways, a UK-based psychedelics company focused on mental health care, recently announced the successful close of its $80 million Series B funding round. The firm says it plans to use the capital infusion to expand the development of its Psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression program.
Existing Compass investor, ATAI Life Sciences took part in the massive Series B financing, as well as newcomers McQuade Center for Strategic Research and Development (Otsuka Holdings), Camden Partners Nexus, Founders Fund, Perceptive Advisors, Able Partners, Soleus Capital, and Skyviews Life Science. ATAI Life Sciences recently completed a large capital raise of its own, taking down $24 million in a convertible note financing led by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
Led by Compass Pathways president and co-founder, Lars Wilde, the Series B investment follows the company’s 2018 $31 million Series A funding round, which was led by Source Healthcare founder, Tim Davis, as well as Principia SGR.
Funding to Expand Psilocybin Research
Compass Pathways says it will use the $80 million from its Series B raise to expand the company’s exploration of Psilocybin as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression. Psilocybin is the naturally occurring hallucinogenic compound found in Magic Mushrooms. Additionally, the sizable investment will be used to ramp up research on the company’s preclinical pipeline, expand clinical and academic partnerships, and develop new digital technologies.
Compass Pathways plans to run several trials designed to help the company prepare its Psilocybin therapy for a Phase 3 study. The aim is to understand how Psilocybin interacts with serotonin inhibitors and other medications for depression. In doing so, the company hopes to learn more about how Psilocybin treatment might play a role in combating depression.
While Compass Pathways still faces certain restrictions because Psilocybin remains a Schedule 1 drug, some obstacles — such as shipping the drug to study sites — have now been ironed out by the company and pose less of a concern for the upcoming phase of the study. By leveraging the knowledge and resources gained from its previous studies, Compass Pathways is well-positioned to transition into ‘Phase 3’ of the company’s program.
“We actually have over 20 sites that all recruit very well. We’re well-positioned to recycle those sites for our phase 3 program,” explains Compass Pathways President and Co-Founder, Lars Wilde. “The only other challenge is to train therapists in the treatment modality. That has gone very well to date. We have trained over 70 therapists. That shouldn’t be a hurdle to scaling up the trials.”
According to Compass Pathways, the 20 sites in the Series B-funded trial represents the world’s first large-scale clinical trial to look at Psilocybin as a depression therapy. As an indicator of just how groundbreaking the company’s study is, in 2018, Compass received FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation for its Psilocybin therapy.
“Our mission has always been to accelerate patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health. This is more important than ever now, with COVID-19 challenging our mental resilience,” stated George Goldsmith, CEO and co-founder of Compass Pathways. “This fundraise shows that our investors recognize this urgent need for innovation in mental health, and will enable us to do more research and development, bringing therapies safely to those who need them, as quickly as possible.”
The Series B funding will also support efforts to strengthen Compass Pathways’ therapist training program. The program includes a digital component and intense in-person training — as well as to further develop the digital tools designed to help patients “integrate the experience,” explains Wilde. This emphasis on post-treatment integration reflects the important role that personal reflection and insights play in Psilocybin treatment.
The Challenges Presented By COVID-19
Despite the importance of conducting mental health research during COVID-19, the global pandemic has presented challenges to the previous stage of the Compass Pathways study — namely around partners pausing their involvement and having to halt enrollment due to public lockdowns.
“It’s a bit unfortunate because the study was going extremely well in terms of recruitment, but the good thing is we have an amazing backlog of patients waiting to be enrolled into the study who have been prescreened already,” says Wilde. “As soon as the world opens up again, we’ll be ready to go and resume the activities in the 2b program.”
Compass Pathways, which has become synonymous with Psilocybin therapy, had originally aimed to finish the previous trial (2b) by the end of 2020, but like everything else, this timeline has changed. Despite the company’s association with Psilocybin therapy, Wilde insists that the firm remains “relatively treatment agnostic.”
Rest assured, if Compass Pathways uncovers concrete connections between Psilocybin and mental health benefits, they will be based on rigorous research — not treatment trends.