ATAI Launches Subsidiary To Develop MDMA Derivatives

Psychedelics and biotech company ATAI Life Sciences announced on Monday the launch of a new subsidiary that will focus on the development of MDMA derivatives for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other indications.

EmpathBio will be a wholly owned subsidiary of ATAI, led by CEO Glenn Short.

The news comes days after the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) completed a $30 million fundraising that puts it one step closer to achieving FDA approval for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD.

“MAPS’ program is groundbreaking and will transform the direction of mental healthcare forever,” Srinivas Rao, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer of ATAI, told Benzinga. “Our rationale for [EmpathBio] is only to scale, expand access to underserved populations, and improve the overall safety profile of MDMA-like therapy.”

Novel MDMA Formulations: Safer Drugs and IP Possibilities

MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by Merck, which makes it impossible to patent. However derivatives from the drug are apt to be patented, which opens a tremendous business opportunity for psychedelic research companies in sight of the upcoming legalization of MDMA-assisted therapy.

As a reward for completing MDMA clinical research, the FDA is expected to grant MAPS a five to seven year market exclusivity once the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is approved. After that, any company is open to produce and distribute the “generic” drug with legal purposes.

By developing MDMA analogs, companies are able to secure patent rights. However, these derivatives need to offer an advantage against …

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