Oxford psychedelic medicine company raises £3 million to develop drug pipeline

Photo supplied by Beckley Psytech of Cosmo Feilding Mellen and Lady Amanda Feidling. Credit: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
Beckley Psytech Cosmo & Lady Amanda Feilding

Beckley Psytech, the psychedelic medicine company based at Beckley near Oxford, has raised £3 million of Series A funding to develop a pipeline of psychedelic drugs into licensed pharmaceutical medicines for treating psychiatric and neurological diseases. Investors in the round include prominent British businessmen Jim Mellon and Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks.

Co-founded by a leader in psychedelic research Lady Amanda Feilding and CEO Cosmo Feilding Mellen, the Beckley Psytech executive team also includes Marc Wayne as Chairman of Board and Dr Steve Wooding, Chief Scientific Officer. Wayne is a pioneer of the Canadian medical cannabis industry and Wooding is the former head of global commercial strategy for Janssen, Johnson and Johnson’s pharmaceutical division.

The prevalence of mental health and central nervous system (CNS) disorders is growing year on year, with roughly one in four people around the world affected by these conditions in their lifetimes, according to Beckley Psytech, and mental health is likely to become the biggest disease burden globally, potentially exacerbated by the current pandemic.

Existing treatments often don’t work well, and may cause treatment limiting side-effects, however currently controlled “psychedelic” drugs such as psilocybin and MDMA have shown early promise in the treatment of debilitating mental and neurological disorders.

Beckley Psytech is developing a drug pipeline of psychedelic medicines which it says have significant commercial potential to address this unmet clinical need. The company is borne out of a partnership with the Beckley Foundation, a non-profit NGO with a 20 year track record of advancing scientific research into psychedelic medicine. The Foundation initiated the first ever brain-imaging study of psilocybin, the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’, and, subsequently, the first clinical trial of the drug for treatment resistant depression (TRD) at Imperial College London. In addition to its own pipeline, Beckley Psytech will have first opportunity to support the commercialisation of the Foundation’s intellectual property and will allocate a share of its revenues to fund the Foundation’s ongoing research as part of its commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Beckley Psytech will use the Series A funding to advance its lead programme exploring the use of synthetic 5-MeO-DMT, a unique psychedelic agent with a short duration of action, in the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases. The funding will help with scaling up resources to develop novel pharmaceutical formulations and delivery methods for synthetic 5-MeO-DMT, as well as to progress preclinical and clinical trials.

Cosmo Feilding Mellen, Lady Feilding’s son, co-founder and CEO of Beckley Psytech, says: “Our diverse and experienced leadership team is perfectly positioned to deliver on our mission of making effective and safe psychedelic medicines available to patients in need and integrating these treatments into mainstream medical practice.

“This investment comes at an exciting time as we look to build on our progress into an area with transformational potential for society. The capital will enable us to put more resources into exploring 5-MeO-DMT and creating a viable pathway for it to enter the market, as well as the exploration of other agents.”

Dr Steve Wooding, Chief Scientific Officer, Beckley Psytech, added: “There is a significant market opportunity for psychedelic medicines and we are developing a pipeline of assets which we hope will deliver transformative care to patients.

“Beckley Psytech will capitalise on its unique medical, scientific and commercial connections to develop under-researched psychedelic agents into fully licensed medicines that could significantly improve quality of life for patients suffering from intractable, chronic mental and neurological conditions.”

Lady Feilding is well known as a researcher and lobbyist for drug policy reform. Her research concentrates on investigating new avenues of treatment for such mental illnesses as depression, anxiety and addiction, as well as to explore methods of enhancing well-being and creativity.

In the 1970s, she famously experimented with trepanning, drilling a hole in her skull, a medical procedure which has been practiced for thousands of years. This is usually done as those on the receiving end of the treatment believe it will aid mental health, or enable them to become ‘enlightened’.