Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

Many startup companies developing psychedelic medicines are struggling to raise money these days. Not Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals. Founded in 2019, Gilgamesh raised $39m in December. Its original investors came back for the Series B round. It participated in the Y Combinator accelerator for startups. Its founder, Jonathan Sporn, who I met briefly at a party during the Horizons conference in New York, has an impressive resume. So I decided to take a closer look.

Lucid News posted my story about Gilgamesh the other day. What’s noteworthy about the company is that it isn’t developing any of the classic psychedelic drugs as medicines. Psilocybin, mescaline, LSD and ketamine have great promise as medicines, when accompanied by talk therapy., but they are all in the public domain. They can’t be patented. Perhaps more importantly, they can almost surely be improved. They can be modified to become safer, or more effective, or longer acting, or shorter acting, or easier to administer.

So Gilgamesh is developing new drugs, and building an intellectual property portfolio that will continue to attract investment, if all goes well. These novel medicines, the company says, will harness the potential of psychedelics to revolutionize the treatment of mental illness. The process is expensive and time-consuming. Chances are, Gilgamesh will need at least seven years before any of its new drugs are commercialized and available to people with depression or addictions. But if its drugs outperform the classic psychedelics, they will be worth the wait.

Here’s a link to my story about Gilgamesh.

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