Scientists are studying a new, apparently effective treatment for allergic asthma. But it’s one parents might not be too crazy about giving their kids-- a psychedelic drug.
The drug is known as (R)-DOI. Previously, this class of drug was known for its psychedelic effects on the brain. But according to scientist and author of the new study Dr. Charles Nichols, “We have demonstrated for the first time… that they are also effective in treating physiological diseases outside of the brain, a completely new and exciting role for this… drug.”
Asthma causes a patient’s airways to be inflamed. This means the muscles around airways tighten and mucus production increases, making it harder to breathe. Previous medications have focused on relaxing the muscles around the airways, or reducing inflammation altogether. But this new drug could actually prevent inflammation before it happens.
Previous studies had shown that when serotonin receptors in the body were activated, this had a strong anti-inflammatory effect. (R)-DOI activates these receptors, causing an anti-inflammatory effect and preventing allergic asthma before it can start.
So far this new drug has only been tested on mice. But the scientists hope to further develop the treatment and someday make it usable for humans as well. Fortunately, even though the treatment is based on a psychedelic drug, they have had successful results through administering it at a concentration 50 to 100 times less than what would influence a person’s behavior.
“Not only is this a significant breakthrough in the field of study of serotonin and psychiatric drugs, but it is a breakthrough in the field of asthma as well,” said Dr. Nichols. “We have identified an entirely new anti-inflammatory mechanism for the treatment of asthma in the clinic that could someday be administered in an inhaler or a daily pill.”