What We’re Reading: Developing Psychedelic Treatments; Shifting Temperatures Jeopardize Health; Breakthrough Designation for New Cancer Treatment

Wall Street investors pour money into developing new psychedelic treatments for mental illnesses; extreme temperature fluctuations around the country can pose health risks; Moderna and Merck's combination skin cancer treatment receives breakthrough designation from the FDA.

Wall Street Supports Psychedelic Drug Venture

Tens of millions of dollars are being invested into psychedelic drugs that supporters say could treat mental illness for much less than the cost of better-known traditional treatments, reports The Wall Street Journal. Venture capitalists invested $40 million with Transcend Therapeutics Inc in January to create a post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, with CEO Blake Mandell noting this would need half the amount of therapy as MDMA (ecstasy). Other companies have following suit; both Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals Inc and Lusaris Therapeutics Inc have raised approximately $100 million since November. Traditional psychedelics cost more for reasons like needing therapists to administer medication and psychotherapy before and after administration.

Weather Extremes Can Worsen Health

Major fluctuations in temperature can worsen human health problems, especially for people currently dealing with medical conditions, said The Washington Post. The extreme changes in temperature being experienced across the United States can worsen allergies, potentially cause infections, and exacerbate heart disease, according to experts. Especially with the latter, rapid temperature changes can be detrimental to heart health, with heat stressing the body and causing the release of harmful stress hormones and cold leading to hypothermia, said Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH, interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

FDA Grants Breakthrough Designation to Moderna/Merck Skin Cancer Treatment

Moderna and Merck have announced that Moderna's experimental personalized mRNA skin cancer vaccine combined with Merck's Keytruda (pembrolizumab) has secured a breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA as a supplementary treatment for high-risk patients, reported Reuters. The designation is based on midstage study data that demonstrate that the combination reduced the risk of skin cancer recurrence or death by 44% compared with Keytruda alone.

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