National Institute of Mental Health hosts European top researchers in psychedelics research.

May 16, 2024, KLECANY - Research on psychedelics is experiencing a renaissance. Their use is being explored, for example, in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression or their role in creating new connections in the brain. In the Czech Republic, this issue is successfully addressed by the Center for Psychedelic Research of the National Institute of Mental Health, which will host a meeting of leading European experts on May 16 and 17.


"The Psychedelic Neuroscience Conference places less emphasis on lectures with its design; instead, it focuses heavily on international networking among scientists, fostering long-term collaborations, and transferring technologies and know-how," says meeting organizer Marek Nikolič from the National Institute of Mental Health. Researchers from NUDZ are already involved in a number of top international projects.

Psychedelics and Machine Learning

"Among the distinguished guests of the conference are, for example, Jan Ramaekers, a professor of pharmacology, forensic toxicology, and cognitive neuroscience, Torsten Passie, a top expert on the acute effects of psychedelics on the psyche, autonomic nervous system, and endocrine system, Patrick Fisher, an expert in neuroimaging methods exploring how psychedelics help understand the function of the brain and its parts, Lisa Xiaolu, who conducted a clinical study on intravenous administration of DMT, as well as leading Czech scientists such as Čestmír Vejmola and Klára Šichová, who study the effects of psychedelics on rats and provide insights for all global clinical studies, and Jan Hubený, who will present an analysis of neuroimaging data obtained by Dr. Tomáš Páleníček from the depths of the Amazon during an ayahuasca shamanic ceremony," says Marek Nikolič.

Also present will be Prof. Dr. Pedro Mediano, one of the youngest individuals to hold a professorship at Imperial College London in computational neuroscience and psychology. "At the age of 31, Pedro is a world leader in advanced data analysis. He specializes in using machine-learning algorithms to uncover patterns in data that are not visible to the naked eye, such as predicting the effect of treatment before it is administered," explains Marek Nikolič. The machine-learning model, currently being trained to predict the response to psilocybin administration in a sample of patients from Imperial College London, and which will subsequently be evaluated in a sample of patients in the PSIKET clinical study conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health, will be presented at the conference.

Effective personalized treatment

"Just like with any treatment, psychedelics are not a miracle pill for everyone. Identifying suitable patients for this type of treatment represents a significant advancement in psychiatry, which can help save a lot of time for patients to obtain effective treatment as soon as possible. A machine-learning model, capable of processing large amounts of data, from diagnosis, through neuroscientific imaging data, to weight, blood pressure, and mood, could theoretically help accurately identify patients who would benefit from psychedelic-assisted therapy and recommend them for treatment. Fast, effective, and accurate personalized treatment is a critical issue discussed in modern psychiatry," concludes Marek Nikolič.

The PSIKET study compares the effects of psilocybin and ketamine - an anesthetic with antidepressant effects - in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression. Those interested can still apply for the study, and more information can be found on the website.


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