PsyRx, an up-and-coming Israel-based company, is focused on creating pharma-grade psychedelics from natural sources as a complementary treatment for mental health conditions. By using natural sources as opposed to synthetic for the active pharmaceutical ingredient, CEO, Itay Hecht and his team have set themselves apart from the expanding field of pharmaceutical psychedelic developers.
PsyRx’s big picture goal is to help improve the effectiveness of SSRIs and diminish their negative effects with the integration of psilocybin and ibogaine. Hecht sees adding a microdose to an SSRI as an effective means to offset the unwanted side effects like lower libido and appetite loss that are commonly reported with SSRIs.
With the use of The Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture’s agro-medical bioreactor, PsyRx “produces psychedelic botanic extracts psilocybin and ibogaine.” Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms and ibogaine comes from the root bark of iboga shrub.
Both psilocybin and ibogaine have proven to be effective treatments against an array of conditions. For example, studies have shown that psilocybin use has helped treat conditions such anxiety, depression, PTSD, and even obesity. Ibogaine has also been proven effective as an anti-addiction treatment.
Although synthetic versions of psychedelics are easier and more consistent to produce, its natural derivative may be more effective. “There’s a big difference between biological and synthetic molecules, especially in how they interact with receptors in the brain”, says Hecht.
This is why the agro-medical bioreactor is key to their mission. The innovation helps PsyRx maintain their competitive advantage in an increasingly-crowded field.
Itay Hecht got his botanical roots working in the cannabis industry in the Netherlands and then in his home country of Israel. His co-founder and CTO, Dr. Kobi Buxdorf, is a microbiologist with a PhD from Hebrew University. Dr. Buxdorf developed “tissue-culture bioreactors for producing cannabis at a pharmaceutical standard.” He then transferred his knowledge into developing a bioreactor for psilocybin that ultimately moved forward to the commercial stage.
Studies are continuing to come out of Hebrew University affirming the benefits and giving rise to new ideas for different uses of microdoses in combination with pharmaceutical drugs.