Psychedelic start-up Atai Life Sciences goes public

The third biotech company focused on psychedelic treatment for mental health disorders has officially been listed on a major US stock exchange. Atai is a biopharmaceutical company that leverages a decentralized platform approach to incubate and accelerate the development of highly effective mental health treatments that address the unmet needs of patients.

Following Compass Pathways, who is researching how psilocybin therapy could help people with treatment-resistant depression, and MindMed, who strives to advance psychedelic-inspired medicines through clinical trials, this IPO demonstrates the rise in investor-interest and beginnings of public-acceptance of a previously discounted treatment options.

According to Eric Scott, senior advisor at venture capital firm 8VC, “The negative effects of mental health disorders in our society are so high, we don’t need to capture a big percent of the market to create massive value.”

Treatment-resistant depression as well as PTSD and other cognitive disorders are severely undertreated and have seen little-to-no new research coming from the big pharmaceutical companies. These alternative treatments, specifically psilocybin and Ketamine, have had multiple positive clinical trials that prove the benefits of these types of treatments.

Standing in the way are, of course, federal regulations that name psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD as illegal substances. The only legal substance part of this new research is Ketamine but must only be used in a controlled medical setting as its addictive properties as well as its typical use as a ‘party drug’ make it questionably safe.

Another blockade is the lack of mental health professionals available to provide such dedicated treatments effectively as most of these substances need to be delivered in a medically-guided treatment session. Then there is also the lack of infrastructure in similar business types.

The psychedelic medicine industry as a whole is quite young, but the interest from investors and the positive results coming out of trials is a peek into the future of mental health treatment.

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