Burnaby, B.C. –
At Burnaby’s Albert Labs, it’s science meets nature. On the walls, you’ll find posters of various mushrooms next to scientific formulas, symbolizing the company’s mission to develop mental health medicine derived from natural substances. The small team of around 20 employees recently received a Health Canada license to further pursue its work in producing psilocybin from mushrooms.
“Oh, it’s very big,” said Ali Gulamhusein, chief development officer for Albert Labs.
“That licence grants us the ability to produce, manufacture, export and import psilocybin.”
Gulamhusein refers to psilocybin as the magic medicine of the magic mushroom. The company also operates in the U.K. and Portugal, and plans to begin clinical trials in the U.K. this fall.
“(The) first early indications that we’re targeting is cancer-related anxiety,” said Gulamhusein, who adds that the company also hopes to treat people with depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Gulamhusein says the process involves isolating the psilocybin from the root and bio-engineering the drug in a controlled setting to help ensure consistency.
The company’s CEO says studies of the treatment have been overwhelmingly positive, calling psilocybin a potential game changer when it comes to mental illness therapy.
“One dose – and associated psychotherapy – cures anxiety for many months, and in some cases, permanently,” said Dr. Michael Raymont.
But it’s currently only available for Canadians with special permission from doctors. Christine Parlee lives with terminal stage four cancer and was granted permission for treatment to help ease her severe anxiety.
“It was phenomenal, probably one of the best experiences of my life to be honest,” said Parlee via Zoom from her home in Duncan.
“To say it changed me down to the bottom of my core is putting it mildly.”
One expert tells CTV News that despite high demand from patients, it could take two to three years before psychedelics become a common, more accessible treatment.
“I think there’s a lot of work to be done in training of professionals in understanding this new paradigm in mental health treatment,” said Dr. Devon Christie, senior lead of psychedelic programs at Numinus.
Meanwhile, if all goes well in the U.K., Albert Labs hopes to have its drug ready for trial in Canada by 2023.