When deciding whether to invest in a junior stock or not, the first box to check is whether you have faith in management to execute their vision. Psychedelic medicine is a new, burgeoning sector, and having experienced, capable scientists on your team is a necessity. On June 22nd, Liberty Leaf (CSE:LIB) acquired Nova Mentis, a research company, spearheaded by Dr. Aylia Mohammadi, who has a PhD in Biological Physics. Today we spent two hours with Dr. Mohammadi, discussing the company’s aggressive plan to prove her hypothesis that the benefits of psilocybin do not just relate to mental health, but also, to the well-being of the body.
Why Nova Mentis is Different from the Rest
If you’ve read our previous articles, you’re likely aware that psilocybin was granted breakthrough status by the FDA in November, 2019, to fast-track tests for treatment of depression related mental health issues. In our Psilocybin Drug Profile, we noted how serotonin receptors in the brain worked to induce central nervous system effects on the body, however, the compound also interacts with serotonin receptors in the gut. To our knowledge, the vast majority of psilocybin research has been focused on the brain, but Dr. Mohammadi is taking a new approach, measuring the effects of psilocybin in the gut and the gut-brain axis. Ideally, through her research, Dr. Mohammadi intends to explore the anti-inflammatory effects of psilocybin to therapeutically target depression in individuals with comorbid obesity and diabetes.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics demonstrated that the activation of the 5-HT(2A) serotonin receptor, which is one target of psychedelics such as psilocybin, produces a potent anti-inflammatory effect. This receptor behaves differently depending on where it is and what is attached, and to date has been studied primarily for its role in the brain. However this receptor is expressed in many tissues, including the gut. There are direct and indirect pathways of communication between the gut and the brain. The Vagus nerve, for example, connects the gut to the brain, working in both directions, sending messages, and receiving them. One research aim at Nova Mentis is to understand the therapeutic potential of activating these and other receptors with psilocybin in the “second brain” that lives in the gut, our enteric nervous system.
There is a reciprocal relationship between depression and obesity, since having one increases the risk of having the other. They often appear together as comorbidities. In the United States, 43% of depressed people are labelled as obese, while 30% of obese individuals experience depression. 27% of Canadians are labelled as obese, and 36% are considered overweight, based on BMI stats. Half of Canadians will experience at least one mental health related episode by the age of 40. Depending on the person, depression can change one’s appetite – some people eat less, and some eat more. The pro-inflammatory state may contribute to overeating while also driving insulin resistance. Psilocybin has therapeutic potential in a disease model that combines treatment of physiological issues with behavioural change. In addition to the anti-inflammatory qualities, anecdotal evidence of subjects taking various doses of psilocybin often report a lack of appetite. Therefore, micro-dosing psilocybin might not only solve depression related issues, but could also aid in the comorbidity issues of metabolic disorders.
Initial Test Plans
Each company’s research must be specific towards establishing a clear thesis, in order to prove a new drug’s efficacy, and save time bringing a new drug to market. Nova Mentis plans to run two concurrent tests, with the first preclinical experiments scheduled to take 3-5 months, aimed at determining the systemic anti-inflammatory effect of psilocybin with obesity and while measuring microbiome. The tests will aim to understand how psilocybin modulates the gut-brain axis and effects on metabolic and mental health. Dr. Mohammadi also will explore subjects of chronic low-grade inflammation, or systemic inflammation, investigating alterations in the microbiome and intestinal barrier function.
Throughout our conversation, Dr. Mohammadi’s passion and enthusiasm about her research was infectious and her objective moving forward is clear. The potential market for psilocybin might grow exponentially as a result of Mohammadi’s research to include a new segment for psilocybin therapy. If successful, Mohammadi’s research could prove the merits of microdosing psilocybin in appetite regulation, without hallucinogenic effects, while also solving mood altering effects through alterations in the microbiome.
We should also tell you, Dr. Mohammadi did mention the potential for her research to improve the psilocybin molecule for the purpose of improving the microdose outcome but she would not elaborate on this subject. If Mohammadi were able to achieve this feat, and her research proved her hypothesis, in 3-5 years, Liberty Leaf’s acquisition of Nova Mentis today on June 22nd will look like a genius move. For full disclosure, today we bought $LIB stock today, after our discussion with the doctor, and we look forward to bringing our readers future updates on her progress.
After Liberty Leaf’s announcement of the psilocybin deal, $LIB traded ten times its normal daily volume, and it seems many of the weak hands in the stock were shaken out into stronger hands, with smart money accumulating. We expect this trend to continue as the company begins to talk about its new future, and investors learn what we learned today. It is also important to note that it appears Nova Mentis will not face the same issue as Champignon’s failure to publish a Business Acquisition Report (BAR) as there were $6,584,935 in assets as of the last audited financials, so the acquisition would not exceed the asset threshold requirement.