Cannabinoid company MGC Pharma moves into psychedelics

Psychedelic Medicine Investment Fund Negev Capital is aiming to innovate mental healthcare in Europe by providing funding to companies on the cutting edge of psychedelic research.

Israel-based Negev Capital targets companies that are leading the field of psychedelic drug development and are in the mid-stages of clinical trials. 

With a global mental health epidemic and a lack of innovative treatments for mental health conditions, Negev believes that increasing evidence from psychedelic research shows that this class of compounds hold promise as new therapeutic modalities for mental healthcare.

Funding the early stages of drug development, to date, Negev’s portfolio includes the likes of Small Pharma, BeckleyPsytech, Awakn, Mindset Pharma, Reconnect Labs and Atai Life Sciences, among a number of others. 

Accelerating research

Speaking to Psychedelic Health, Founding Partner Ken Belotsky and Principal Hayim Raclaw, say that psychedelics will only gain momentum as continuing pre-clinical and clinical research points to the compounds as effective treatments for mental health conditions. 

“Seeing clinical indications which psychedelics have the greatest impact on mental health and CNS, and these are areas in which humanity is suffering a great deal,” commented Raclaw. 

“We don’t talk in epidemiological terms about mental health, because mental health pathologies aren’t transmitted the same way viruses are, but in terms of scale and growth trajectory – we are in the midst of a mental health epidemic. 

“To add to that context, the ways in which we treat mental health ailments, disorders, pathologies, are not terribly effective. Certainly, not as effective as they need to be. We’re dealing with treatments that have been around for decades with limitations on their effectiveness.

“This renaissance of research into the effects of psychedelics on mental health and the Central Nervous System [CNS], the results are nothing short of astonishing and very promising. 

“These aren’t merely new prescription drugs. These are new modalities of care. It’s a class of therapeutics that seem to be very effective in an area where the need is just tremendous.”

Raclaw highlights that the last 36 months have seen preclinical and animal research moving into human models, currently, with around 24% of new clinical trials for depression treatments in 2022 were with psychedelics.

“As investors, it’s a wonderful time to support the most promising companies because the macroeconomic situation is such that it’s a buyer’s market in terms of investing in these companies – you’re not dealing with overinflated or over high valuations, quite the opposite,” he commented.

“The time horizon for a lot of the companies’ research is not decades, but within two to three years, they will be far enough along – in Phase 2b of clinical trials – to know whether the drugs are efficacious or not, whether they’re promising or not, which is the kind of time horizon for realising the value of these investments that investors like to see.”

The time is now

Negev has years of experience in investing and has recently welcomed Professor Matt Johnson from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who is a world leader in psychedelics research, onto its advisory board.  

“It’s a wonderful time to put the hard-earned experience of the last several years of investing, of Negev Fund One, to work” said Belotsky. “We have the experience and the right team to act on the exciting moment.”

Negev launched its first fund in 2021 with a broad focus, investing in companies with strong science and management teams, providing enough capital for the companies to pass certain stages of development.

The company is now launching its second fund to the capital of USD$250 million which will finance human clinical trials. Negev will invest in around 10 to 12 companies at an average of $15 million to $25 million per company for Phase 1 to Phase 2b clinical trials. 

Belotsky commented: “Fundamentally, we see that the quality of research, the results from clinical trials that we get are so positive right now. Unfortunately, because of macroeconomic conditions and other issues, many investors right now don’t recognise these positive results. Those that do will benefit themselves and a novel industry that seeks to help people.

“As already mentioned, 24% of all new clinical trials last year in depression were based on psychedelics. It’s the largest family of compounds right now present on the market.

“The main challenge right now is that the market needs pharmaceutical-grade products to help people. That’s the aim of our fund, to help companies to build pharmaceutical-grade products with compounds inspired by psychedelics. 

“I think we have already enough evidence to show we are past the point of no return – it’s not possible to stop this moment anymore, so, it’s just a matter of time.

“There are some absolutely amazing opportunities for investors right now. We know all the best assets in the space, we know all the best management teams and we know how to deploy the capital in the most efficient way.” 

Raclaw added: “The opportunity for psychedelics has gotten better, and macroeconomic situations aside, the fact is that the need is there. The R&D is bearing out it’s getting more exciting with each new set of results that comes out. 

“The regulators are embracing this, the medical community is engaged by the mounting clinical evidence, and the public itself has a greater interest just looking at the number of articles and books and Netflix specials. So, the fundamentals have gotten stronger.”

Negev is an official sponsor of PSYCH Symposium: London 2023 which will take place on Thursday, 6 July 2023, at the iconic British Museum. To find out more or to buy tickets, please visit: www.psychsymposium.com.

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