Delix Science

Our Science

Psychedelic medicine represents a breakthrough in the treatment of mood disorders, akin to the discovery of ketamine’s antidepressant activity in the early 2000s. However, like ketamine, the side effect profile of psychedelics limits their practical potential as medicines – the induction of hallucinations and requirement for in-clinic administration limit scalability and addressable patient-populations.

Our scientific founder, Professor David E. Olson at UC Davis, discovered that psychedelics and related compounds were exceptionally good at promoting structural and functional neuroplasticity in cortical neurons. Dubbed psychoplastogens, these molecules are quickly becoming the gold standard in circuit-based approaches for improving mental health. However, 1st generation psychoplastogens including ketamine (e.g., Spravato) and serotonergic psychedelics (e.g., psilocybin, LSD) have several limitations: abuse liability, cardiovascular effects, and hallucinogenic properties that necessitate in-clinic administration and patient monitoring, which drastically increases the complexity and cost of administering these therapeutics. Several companies are developing novel formulations of these compounds as 2nd generation psychoplastogens, altering aspects such as PK but preserving hallucinogenicity and basic pharmacology.

cutting-edge and scalable

Delix is developing 3rd generation psychoplastogens - the future of CNS therapeutics

Eliminating hallucinogenic liability allows these medications to be taken at-home and significantly broadens the range of brain disorders that can be treated. Our discovery platform allows us to identify the most promising psychoplastogens, with more favorable safety and efficacy profiles compared to ketamine and psychedelic compounds. With over 8 unique chemical scaffolds and counting, Delix has generated dozens of non-hallucinogenic compounds that promote neuroplasticity as well as a treasure trove of institutional knowledge that will springboard these 3rd generation psychoplastogens into the clinic.

healing, not simply treating

Our circuit-based approach

Historically, the “Monoamine Imbalance” hypothesis of depression played a dominant role in psychiatry and drug development. However, while traditional antidepressants rapidly elevate monoamines like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, their clinical efficacy is significantly delayed and about 1/3 of patients will not respond to them. Clinical and preclinical data across multiple modalities began to converge on pathways involved in neuroplasticity as being critically important in the treatment of brain disorders. Psychoplastogens are among the most robust plasticity-promoting compounds studied to date.

Our founding science

Prof David E. Olson, PhD studied chemistry and neuroscience at Stanford University and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.  His academic lab at the University of California, Davis discovered that psychedelics promote structural and functional neuroplasticity in the cortex.  They coined the term “psychoplastogen” to describe small molecules that produce rapid and long-lasting psychedelic- and ketamine-like effects on neuronal structure, and they invented the first non-hallucinogenic psychoplastogens capable of producing sustained therapeutic effects in preclinical models after a single dose.

see what the excitement is about

Read the recent papers in Cell and Nature related to our groundbreaking technologies

recent publications