It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. The devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will leave an impact for years to come – on the economy, on employment, on our physical health, and on our mental health.
We were in a global mental health crisis even before COVID arrived, and it is more important than ever that we find a way to deliver better outcomes in mental health care for more people. At COMPASS, we are grateful that we have been able to continue our work throughout the year, with our highly engaged team working remotely, as well as collaboration, support and flexibility from so many people including partners, researchers, and investors. As I reflect on this year, I want to express my gratitude for everyone who has helped us to make progress towards our goal of transforming mental health care.
Unmet need in mental health care
In September this year we became a public company, listing our stock on Nasdaq and raising $146.6 million. Most of this money will be used to fund our clinical development, including our clinical trials of COMP360 psilocybin therapy and our therapist training activities, as well as our R&D programmes, and work on digital technologies. We are grateful to all our past, existing and new investors – your support reflects an understanding of the growing unmet need in mental health care, and allows us to advance our research with continued pace and rigour.
Public sentiment has also been caught by the desperate need for better mental health care. This was clearly demonstrated in November in the US state of Oregon, where voters passed Measure 109 to begin a process to legalise psilocybin therapy for medical use. We share the same long-term goals of Measure 109: to provide options for the many people who suffer with mental health challenges for whom existing treatments don’t work. However, we believe that psilocybin therapy needs to be approved by medical regulators, with evidence generated in large-scale clinical trials, so that it can be assessed on safety, efficacy and quality, and made accessible to all who might benefit, through national and local health systems.
COMP360 psilocybin therapy trial for treatment-resistant depression
A huge thank you to our clinical trial teams in North America and Europe who have worked so hard to overcome the challenges of running a clinical trial during a global pandemic. The safety of patients and our teams is always our highest priority, and this has guided all our discussions over when and how to reopen sites that were closed during the initial lockdowns in March 2020. We have been able to safely resume our phase IIb clinical trial, with the use of new procedures and equipment, including clear plastic masks.
We recently welcomed our 21st trial site, The Charité in Berlin, bringing our research through this trial to 10 countries in North America and Europe.
Our research partners
We have a bold ambition to transform mental health care. We know we cannot do this alone, and are fortunate to work with researchers across the world to accelerate the development of innovative treatments and bring them to patients. Thank you to all our research partners for your continued collaboration.
In August we entered into a sponsored research agreement with the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA, to establish a Drug Discovery Center. The Center is exploring and developing optimised psychedelic and other early-stage compounds targeting the 5HT2A receptor – one of the receptors in the brain that is recognised as a promising target in the treatment of mental health challenges.
We are also providing funding and support to the Aquilino Cancer Center at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, in Rockville, MD, which has begun the first clinical trial of psilocybin therapy with simultaneous administration and one-on-one patient support to treat depression in cancer patients.
Last month we joined the Psychiatry Consortium, an international collaboration of medical research charities and pharmaceutical companies focused on the challenge of identifying and validating novel drug targets for mental health illnesses. We will work alongside Psychiatry Consortium members and academic partners to advance research projects, providing support through access to funding, expertise, and commercialisation know-how.
Our energetic and mission-driven team
We couldn’t do any of this without our amazing team and our board, both made up of talented and dedicated individuals, who have been simply outstanding during a challenging and extremely busy year.
In recent months, we have welcomed Linda McGoldrick as non-Executive Director; Greg Ryslik as Senior Vice President, Data Science, Machine Learning and Digital Health Research; Steve Levine as Vice President of Patient Access; Sarah Bateup as Head of Therapy Research and Training; and Stephen Schultz as Senior Vice President, Investor Relations. COMPASS is now a team of more than 60 people and continuing to grow. We are ably supported by a wider network of suppliers, partners and advisers, and we are proud and grateful to work with all of you.
From left to right: Linda McGoldrick, Greg Ryslik, Steve Levine, Sarah Bateup, and Stephen Schultz
Thank you to everyone who has continued to support us, observe our work, or send us messages. We look forward to sharing more progress with you in 2021, as we work together to realise our vision of a world of mental wellbeing.
We wish you and your loved ones all the very best for the holidays and the New Year.