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15 November 2023

New psychedelics and mental health research centre officially opens

The Centre for Mental Health Research and Innovation officially opened on 15 November 2023 to accelerate research into psychedelics and develop new models of care for mental health.

COMPASS Centre reception

The new Centre is part of a pioneering long-term strategic partnership between biotechnology company Compass Pathways, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London.

Located at the Maudsley Hospital in South London, the dedicated and purpose-built space will be run by leading clinical investigators, Professor Allan Young, Head of Academic Psychiatry at IoPPN, and Dr James Rucker, Consultant Psychiatrist and Lead of the Psychoactive Trials Group at King’s College London. The centre’s research will initially focus on areas of urgent need, including treatment-resistant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia nervosa.

Professor Allan Young said, “Today marks a milestone for research into the use of psychedelics to treat mental health conditions. Over several years we have moved to phase 3 clinical trials for psilocybin and treatment-resistant depression, an achievement that would not have been possible without the facilities and staff of the NIHR King’s Clinical Research Facility.

Now with this new Centre, the continuing partnership between Compass Pathways, King’s College London and South London and Maudsley is embarking on the next stage of research where we can evaluate the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics to treat a range of mental health conditions, explore the mechanisms behind how psychedelics might work and assess the feasibility for their delivery at scale.

Professor Allan Young, Head of Academic Psychiatry, IoPPN

Coinciding with the Centre opening, Compass Pathways announced the commencement of the UK component of its phase 3 program of the use of psilocybin in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The research will take place in multiple sites in the UK, including at the Centre for Mental Health Research and Innovation. The on-going phase 3 program is the largest randomised, controlled, double-blind psilocybin treatment clinical program ever conducted, and follows promising results from Compass’s phase 2b study of COMP360 psilocybin treatment.

David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said, “We are excited to be running part of this pivotal phase 3 study at the new Centre for Mental Health Research at our Maudsley Hospital site in south London.”

This partnership shows how working across academia, the NHS and industry can accelerate the development of exciting new treatments for mental disorders. Early stage support from funders such as the NIHR make it possible to establish the potential of novel treatments so we can work between partners in different sectors to find better treatments, which are so badly needed. The new Centre will help accelerate the development of new much-needed therapies.

Professor Matthew Hotopf CBE, Executive Dean at IoPPN

The newly launched Centre is part of a research partnership which will help to develop innovative treatment with the goal of improving mental health care for people across the UK. Our world-leading clinicians will work closely with researchers at the new Centre and will begin with a focus on areas of urgent need, such as post- traumatic stress disorder, anorexia nervosa and treatment-resistant depression.

David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

The Centre will assist in the development of new models of care to help integrate these investigational treatments into healthcare systems, if approved in the future. This will include evaluating real-world evidence, researching and developing digital technologies that may help to deliver personalised, predictive and preventative care models, and conducting therapist training.

“Every 40 seconds, someone dies from suicide; tens of millions more live with mental health conditions for which there is no good standard of care.” said Kabir Nath, CEO, Compass Pathways. “The launch of our phase 3 clinical study in treatment-resistant depression here in the UK is an important step in developing innovations that are urgently needed, and we recognize the important role that public-private partnerships play in this."

"We’re proud to partner with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London to open the new Centre for Mental Health Research and Innovation. Together, we are conducting cutting-edge research to develop new solutions for mental illnesses and ensure these potential treatments are broadly and equitably accessible to those who need them the most.”

The psychoactive trials group based at the IoPPN brings together researchers and clinicians from King’s College London and South London and Maudsley to study psychedelics as a treatment for a range of mental health conditions including TRD, anorexia and PTSD. Much of this research has taken place at the National Institute of Health and Care Resaerch (NIHR) King’s Clinical Research Facility and been supported by NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, whose interim director Professor Grainne McAlonan is leading an investigative study into psilocybin and autism.

For more information, please contact the IoPPN Communications Team.

In this story

Allan Young

Head of School, Academic Psychiatry

James Rucker

Consultant Psychiatrist & Senior Clinical Lecturer