In a recent study conducted at the University of California, researchers found that a new psychedelic compound that was effective in reducing stress levels in mice. The new compound lacks both the toxic and hallucinogenic effects that are carried in most other psychedelic drugs, therefore making it a strong candidate for a potential future treatment.
Named ‘TBG’, the compound has a similar structure to ibogaine, another psychedelic. Prior studies on the compound had found that it had antidepressant effects and had successfully worked to reduce addictive behavior in rodents. This led to further research being conducted on its potential effects on stress, with a range of tests being conducted to evaluate behavioral responses when treated with TBG, the new compound.
The latest study, led by co-first author Michelle Tija, focused primarily on whether the compound could reduce stress levels in mice. Stress can trigger increased anxiety, deficits in sensory processing and reduced flexibility in decision making. This can disrupt the connections between neurons in the brain and alter neuronal circuity. However, during the study when the mice were given tabernanthalog (TBG), the researchers found that one dose was sufficient in alleviating these symptoms. Using brain imaging techniques, they found that a single dose had also promoted the regrowth of neural connections and helped restore neural circuits in the brain which were disrupted by stress.
"It was very surprising that a single treatment with a low dose had such dramatic effects within a day," said corresponding author Yi Zuo, professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology at UC Santa Cruz. "I had a hard time believing it even when I saw the initial data."
Zuo’s Lab made a futher statement, adding another beacon of hope, "Amazingly, TBG reversed all of the effects of stress," Zuo said. "This study provides significant insights into neural mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of psychedelic analogs on mental illnesses and paves the way for future investigations to understand their cellular and circuit mechanisms."