Johns Hopkins Launches a Pioneering Psychedelic Research Center: Brainstorm Health
Hello and happy hump day, readers.
One of the world's most renowned medical institutions is doubling down on psychedelics (yes, those psychedelics). In fact, Johns Hopkins—with the help of a group of private donors who have ponied up some $17 million in cash for the effort—is launching a new Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
This center will be dedicated to seeing whether or not mind-altering, psychedelic chemicals such as psilocybin (the thing that puts the "magic" in "magic mushrooms") can help treat conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to Alzheimer's to opioid dependence.
"Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients," says Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO Paul B. Rothman in a statement. "Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential."
Hopkins claims that this is the first such academic institution dedicated to such research. That's not to say it hasn't been done before—there have been plenty of preliminary studies suggesting that unconventional (and, in many cases, currently illegal) drugs such as psilocybin, MDMA, and others may be effective in treating a slew of mental and behavioral health problems.
But public funding, even for health research, gets tricky when it comes to substances considered illicit by regulators—which may explain why this new Johns Hopkins project is reliant on private donors.
Read on for the day's news.
Did A.I. just outpace traditional drug discovery? A Hong Kong-based firm may (may) have provided some real-world evidence that artificial intelligence can boost early drug discovery in a meaningful way. A new report in the journal Nature Biotechnology claims that Insilico Medicine was able to discover and validate a potential new drug compound in fewer than 50 days, which would be a marked improvement on the status quo. Next up: Long-term followups and a whole lot of questions about efficacy. (pharmaphroum)
The death of a microbiome company. UBiome, a company focused on—you guessed it, the “microbiome”—is filing for bankruptcy less than half a year after the FBI raided its offices over alleged billing malfeasance. The firm sold personalized gut health tests to its customers and had raised more than $100 million in venture funding. Much more on this later.
Why Google Won’t End Up Like Microsoft, by Aaron Pressman
Google Just Got Trolled by Small Business Over Its ‘Shakedown’ Search Ads, by Jeff John Roberts
The Company Behind ‘Female Viagra’ Just Raised $20 Million in Funding, by Polina Marinova
Find past coverage. Sign up for other Fortune newsletters.