MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy: Exploring the Role of Receptors, Neurons, and Brain Circuits

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Psychedelic Science Summit: Austin, Texas (November 1-3, 2019)

Speaker: Alli Feduccia, Ph.D.

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is under investigation as a novel treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This treatment approach has recently progressed to Phase 3 clinical trials and received Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA in 2017. The underlying psychological and neurological mechanisms for the robust effects in mitigating PTSD symptoms are being studied in animal models and in studies of healthy volunteers. This presentation explores the potential role of memory re-consolidation and fear extinction during MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, as well as the contribution of signaling molecules that modulate emotional memory circuits and neuroplasticity. Determining who is unlikely to respond to this intensive drug-therapy combination is of clinical interest. Tapering of antidepressant medications re-uptake inhibitor that target the same principal receptors as MDMA can potentially impact the subjective and psychological effects of MDMA. Unpublished data from four Phase 2 trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy will be presented showing differential treatment and physiological responses between participants who tapered and those that did not.

Dr. Alli Feduccia was a Senior Clinical Data Scientist at MAPS Public Benefit Corporation. In this role, she analyzed data from clinical trials for publications and regulatory documents, and communicated findings with scientific and lay audiences. She is also Co-Founder and Director of Psychedelic.Support, an online platform to connect with mental health professionals. She earned a Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology from the University of Texas at Austin studying the effects of MDMA on behavior and neurochemical release in rodent models. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Francisco and at the National Institutes of Health where she investigated treatments for substance use disorders. Alli highly regards the opportunity to help generate scientifically based evidence on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

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