A decade after it was founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), MAPS Public Benefit Corporation has secured over $100 million in a Series A private stock sale. The funds will support the final stages of its application for regulatory approval to sell MDMA, also known as ecstasy, as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
MAPS has incubated the only psychedelic-assisted therapy research program that has completed two successful Phase 3 studies and submitted a New Drug Application to the FDA.
In addition to the Series A financing, led by Helena — the foundation funded by hedge-fund manager Joe Samberg — the organization will change its name change to Lykos Therapeutics.
“We are profoundly grateful to partner with Protik Basu and the rest of the Helena team of mission-aligned investors who understand our prioritization of public benefit and deeply care about humanitarian causes,” Rick Doblin, Ph.D., MAPS founder and president said in a company press release on Friday. “Together, we can uphold our commitment to the trial participants, therapists, scientists, other partners and collaborators, and donors who, over nearly four decades, have dedicated themselves to researching novel investigational therapies for PTSD for public benefit.”
Doblin added that, in partnership with Helena, Lykos will transition from a research-focused nonprofit company to a public benefit corporation with mission-aligned investors focused on FDA approval and insurance coverage of MDMA-assisted therapy for patients with PTSD.
This investment comes amidst a surge of interest in psychedelic treatments for various mental illnesses that have proven difficult to address with traditional medication. Several other companies are vying to be the first to market these novel therapies.
Atai Life Sciences ATAI recently announced a $50 million investment in Beckley Psytech, a U.K.-based firm developing a fast-acting psychedelic medication for depression. Similarly, Small Pharma DMTTF, another U.K.-based manufacturer of rapid-acting psychedelics, was acquired by Canadian clinical-stage biotech company Cybin Inc. CYBN in an all-stock deal last August.
Compass Pathways CMPS, another major player in the field, raised up to $285 million through a stock-and-warrant sale to hedge-fund managers like TCG Crossover Management and Citadel Advisors. This capital will allow Compass to conduct clinical trials using psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, for treating depression until late 2025. Atai also holds a partial stake in Compass Pathways.
Despite the high hopes surrounding the potential of psychedelics to help millions of patients, developers face the hurdle of navigating the expensive and lengthy regulatory approval process. This challenge often compels startups to sell stock at a time when biopharmaceutical valuations are generally low.