The Goldman Sachs technology M&A team, led by Sam Britton, has cashed in on its software focus and decades of experience to dominate 2019's biggest deals.Technologyread more
American small and medium-size companies that rely on China are scrambling to adjust their business plans in response to the escalating trade war.Traderead more
Here are the products that stand to be the most affected by China's new tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods.Marketsread more
The summit comes amid fears over a global economic slowdown, and U.S. tensions over trade allies, Iran and Russia.Politicsread more
The world's second biggest economy is past a point where it cannot ignore its enormous debt anymore, according to an analyst.China Economyread more
Carl Medlock used to work at Tesla. Now he's one of the few people in the U.S. that can fix the company's original Roadster electric vehicles.Technologyread more
Trump does have some powerful tools that would not require approval from U.S. Congress.Politicsread more
Stocks dropped after Donald Trump ordered that U.S. manufacturers find alternatives to their operations in China.US Marketsread more
As demand for lab monkeys continues to rise, U.S. scientists are reporting delays in research projects because they can't obtain enough animals, according to the National...Politicsread more
The European Union will respond in kind if the U.S. imposes tariffs on France over digital tax plan, EU chief Donald Tusk told G-7.Technologyread more
Trump said he will raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods to 30% and hike duties on another $300 billion in products to 15%.Politicsread more
Psychedelic medicine is having a moment.
Just weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved approved Johnson & Johnson's ketamine-like nasal spray for depression, a group of European technology investors just got together for the largest-ever private financing round for a psychedelic medicine biotech company, ATAI.
Psychedelic medicine involves research and investigations into mind-altering substances to treat mental illnesses including addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. After recreational use of psychedelics became popular in the 1960s, the U.S. government classified most of them "drugs of abuse" with no real medical value. However, recent clinical studies show mounting evidence that some psychedelics can help patients with certain mental illnesses, either in combination with traditional therapies or in cases where nothing else has worked.
Now health and technology investors are paying attention.
German company ATAI Life Sciences announced on Tuesday that it has raised more than $40 million in new financing. The round valued the company at $240 million, according to a person familiar, making it both the biggest round and the most valuable company in the young space. (There are well established nonprofits, like MAPS in California, but relatively few for-profit ventures.) ATAI is also targeting a potential initial public offering for the end of this year, the person said, which would draw further attention.
ATAI is currently funding clinical trials for what it refers to as "formerly stigmatized compounds," including psilocybin, the active compound in psychedelic mushrooms, and arketamine, a different variant of ketamine from the one Johnson & Johnson researched, as potential treatments for depression. Its portfolio also includes a technology arm called Innoplexus, which it describes as delivering "big data and AI solutions" to big pharma and biotech companies, as well as its own drug development.
ATAI is also the largest investor in a start-up called Compass Pathways, which is setting itself up to be the first legal provider of psilocybin. ATAI invested alongside Peter Thiel, the iconoclastic Silicon Valley investor and Facebook board member who's increasingly dabbling in health and biotech. ATAI co-founders Lars Wilde and Florian Brand are both affiliated with Compass; a third founder, Christian Angermayer, is a German entrepreneur and investor.
Biotech investors believe that psychedelic medicine will experience a revival in the wake of recent research studies as well as some early signals of support from regulators.
Last year, for example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Compass a "Breakthrough Therapy " designation for its research into psilocybin for depression, allowing legal clinical trials to start. The FDA also expedited the approval process for esketamine, which is derived from the anesthetic ketamine, because many patients with depression don't respond to normal treatments.
Adding further legitimacy to the space, Johnson & Johnson, the pharma giant, puts years of investment into studying into the benefits and potential side effects of esketamine. Its approval by the FDA represented the first new drug for depression in decades, although the medical establishment has stressed that more research is needed to better understand the long-term use of ketamine.
"A decision (like that) by FDA is the ultimate signal for investors," said Brad Loncar, a biotech investor with Loncar Investments, who specializes in cancer and rare disease. "It shows that there's a regulatory path forward for this class of drugs, which typically causes a flood of investment in the area."
Others say that private investment in the space needs to be coupled with research into their social impact, as well as programs to support and guide patients.
"People are getting behind psychedelic-assisted therapies because they are desperate for real solutions that actually work, and for many, this treatment does," said Liana Gillooly, a development officer at MAPS, a non-profit investigating the therapeutic uses of psychedelics, with an early focus on MDMA as a potential treatment for PTSD. But Gillooly said that funding needs to be set aside for "safe contexts" for these treatments to be administered, and not just for-profit drug development.
ATAI's funding, which totals $43 million, comes from Michael Auerbach's New York-based Subversive Capital, but also includes investors ranging from Apeiron Investment Group, which is Angermayer's family office; Bail Capital, a private equity firm; and Efrem Kamen, founder of the health care fund Pura Vida Investments. Prior investors include billionaire investor Mike Novogratz and the Icelandic businessman Thor Bjorgolfsson.