Nova Mentis Life Science (NOVA.C) announced early indications of a rescue effect through psilocybin use on anxiety-like behaviours related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The research involved studying rats that have been prenatally exposed to valproic acid (VPA), which can cause autism-like behaviours. Nova Mentis conducted a series of experiments to examine the effect of psilocybin on anxiety-like behaviour in an Elevated Plus Maze. The experiment was done in cooperation with the laboratory of Dr. Viviana Trezza, Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy.
The experiment found that prenatal exposure to VPA caused autistic-like behaviour in the rat offspring, especially anxiety. The study also found that psilocybin helped with the anxiety-like behaviours caused by the VPA.
Additional studies are currently being undertaken to confirm these findings. Nova’s statement says the overall objective of the study is to establish the efficacy of psilocybin in treating ASD.
“The early results from this study are very encouraging and further validate our team’s efforts to establish the therapeutic potential of psilocybin for ASD patients,” stated Will Rascan, President & CEO of NOVA.
The prevalence of anxiety in those with ASD has been widely debated, with studies suggesting between 22% to 84% of those with ASD suffer from anxiety. A meta-analysis suggested the prevalence is around 40%.
Psilocybin has been shown to reduce anxiety in between 60 and 80 percent of patients, with the effects lasting years.
It is difficult to know how well the positive effects from neurotypical people will translate to those with autism, but there is currently no reason to think the treatment effects won’t be similar, although more studies are needed.
NOVA’s stock price has inched up slightly following the news.