Psychedelic Drug Prevents Asthma Development

A psychedelic drug called (R)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine or (R)-DOI has been found to also prevent the development of allergic asthma in mice.

A psychedelic drug called (R)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine or (R)-DOI has been found to also prevent the development of allergic asthma in mice.

A team of researchers from Louisiana State University (LSU) looked at the effects of (R)-DOI, a serotonin 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)2A receptor agonist which contains serotonin, a molecule known to be tied to inflammation, but not asthma.

“We have previously established that activation of serotonin 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)2A receptors has potent anti-inflammatory activity in primary cultures of vascular tissues and in the whole animal in vasculature and gut tissues,” the authors wrote in the American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

These drugs, while their neurological effects have been researched extensively, identified its role in asthma development—a discovery, lead researcher Charles Nichols, PhD, an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, believes could pave the way for breakthrough inhalers and medications.

With 25 million sufferers in the US, asthmatics are commonly prescribed bronchodilators to relieve constriction of the bronchioles, and glucocorticoids to relieve airway inflammation.

However, when (R)-DOI was administered to mice, it not only prevented their asthmatic symptoms, such as airways hyper-responsiveness (AHR), mucus hyperproduction, airways inflammation, and pulmonary eosinophil recruitment—by cutting off key genes—but occurs at a dose 50-100 times smaller that would result in behavioral changes.

“Not only is this a significant breakthrough in the field of study of serotonin and psychiatric drugs, but it is a breakthrough in the field of asthma as well. Overall, given the recent interest and success using these drugs for psychiatric therapies in the clinic, our research at LSU Health New Orleans is the first to show that they have potential to heal the body as well as the mind," Nichols concluded.

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