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Psychedelic Medicine

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The clinical pharmacology and potential therapeutic applications of 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT)

5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) is a naturally occurring tryptamine that primarily acts as an agonist at the 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors, whereby affinity for the 5-HT1A subtype is highest. Subjective effects following 5-MeO-DMT administration include distortions in auditory and time perception, amplification of emotional states, and feelings of ego dissolution that usually are short-lasting, depending on the route of administration. Individual dose escalation of 5-MeO-DMT reliably induces a “peak” experience, a state thought to be a core predictor of the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelics. Observational studies and surveys have suggested that single exposure to 5-MeO-DMT can cause rapid and sustained reductions in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. 5-MeO-DMT also stimulates neuroendocrine function, immunoregulation, and anti-inflammatory processes, which may contribute to changes in mental health outcomes. To date, only one clinical trial has been published on 5-MeO-DMT, demonstrating the safety of vaporized dosing up to 18 mg. Importantly, the rapid onset and short duration of the 5-MeO-DMT experience may render it more suitable for individual dose-finding strategies compared with longer-acting psychedelics. A range of biotech companies has shown an interest in the development of 5-MeO-DMT formulations for a range of medical indications, most notably depression. Commercial development will therefore be the most important resource for bringing 5-MeO-DMT to the clinic. However, fundamental research will also be needed to increase understanding of the neurophysiological and neural mechanisms that contribute to the potential clinical effects of 5-MeO-DMT and its sustainability and dissemination over time. Such studies are less likely to be conducted as part of drug development programs and are more likely to rely on independent, academic initiatives.

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