Incannex Healthcare partners with Monash University to develop virtual reality psychedelic treatment for anxiety disorders

Clinical-stage medicinal cannabis and psychedelic pharmaceutical company Incannex Healthcare (ASX: IHL) has secured a license agreement with Victoria’s Monash University to develop a novel treatment for anxiety which combines virtual reality and psychedelic medicines.

The exclusive global license is over an immersive therapeutic virtual reality environment developed by clinical research platform BrainPark, based at the university’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health.

It allows Incannex to use virtual reality therapy tool in combination with a psychedelic drug that has yet to be named to develop a new treatment for severe forms of one or more anxiety disorders.

The established therapy uses an exposure-based approach, providing triggering stimuli in a graded and controlled manner, often referred to as exposure response and prevention (ERP) therapy.

When administered with a psychedelic drug, the approach may allow for the development of a new therapy paradigm involving new skills, changes in mental and biological responses to triggering stimuli, and reductions in pathological symptoms and behaviours.

Research project

An associated research and development project will be funded by Incannex and led by Turner Institute head and Incannex scientific advisory board member Dr Paul Liknaitzky, as well as clinical neuropsychologist Professor Murat Yücel.

Dr Liknaitzky is currently Australia’s only full-time psychedelic medicine and therapy researcher.

Incannex managing director Joel Latham said the license agreement expands an existing partnership with Monash and seeks to provide a leading edge in the field of mental health treatments.

Commercial terms

Granting of the license is conditional on fees and royalties that Incannex will pay to Monash, commencing with $300,000 on execution of the agreement.

Incannex will pay another $250,000 on execution of a research agreement between Incannex and Monash relating to a second clinical trial; and a further $250,000 on agreement to a third trial.

A royalty of 7.5% of net sales will apply subject to successful commercialisation of a therapy.

Incannex and Monash are currently working towards a research agreement for the first clinical trial, which will assess the optimal dose, safety and tolerability of the combination treatment method.

Unique medicines

Incannex specialises in the development of unique cannabinoid-based and psychedelic medicines for conditions which have unmet patient needs.

These needs represent potential multi-billion-dollar markets in sleep apnoea, traumatic brain injury, rheumatoid arthritis, lung inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease and generalized anxiety disorder, and now potentially other forms of severe anxiety using the VR technology designed to undertake exposure therapy in the clinic.

IHL became trade-able on the Nasdaq on Friday of last week under the ticker symbol ‘IXHL’.

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