As the drumbeat of psychedelic drugs’ therapeutic impact grows louder, it’s little surprise that companies are looking for new compounds that can rival psilocybin and LSD — while also being proprietary and patentable. Enter Compass Pathways and their star chemist, Jason Wallach. As John Semley reports for Wired, Wallach’s mad-scientist act is a childhood dream that just happens to have billion-dollar consequences.
One of Wallach’s goals is to hack how long a psychedelic’s effect lasts. Full-dose psilocybin trips usually run in excess of six hours. Hand-me-down hippie wisdom dictates three full days for a proper LSD experience: one to prepare, one to trip, and one for reacclimating yourself to the world of waking, non-wiggly consciousness. From a clinical perspective, such epic sessions are expensive and may not be necessary. Meanwhile, drugs like DMT are acute and intense, with effects lasting only minutes (sometimes called “the businessman’s trip” because it can be enjoyed within a typical lunch hour). Finding what Compass cofounder Lars Wilde calls “the sweet spot” between the length of a trip and clinical efficacy is just one of Wallach’s many challenges. If he and his team of researchers happen upon a concoction that’s particularly potent or experientially unique—“cool” is a word that gets tossed around a lot—well, all the better.