Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Pineapple Fund Offers $4M Matching Grant to MAPS for MDMA Research (maps.org)
293 points by anythingnonidin 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 65 comments

If MDMA were to become approved medicine in the US, I see it as an important milestone when it comes to getting rid of misguided classifications of drugs as having no medical value even though there are both research and anecdotal evidence suggesting otherwise. I am certain that a change in the US will have impacts on other countries as well.

I donated last summer because I sincerely believe this research will have a huge positive impact on many peoples lives if MDMA were to become medicine. Seeing this news I have decided to donate again.

Thanks for your donation! (that will be matched :)

The Phase 2 trials and FDA's breakthrough therapy designation along shows strong medical value of MDMA, especially in a clinical context with psychotherapy sessions and a trained therapist.

I hope this starts a renaissance in the use of psychedelics to treat, long term (with short term drug applications), many mental conditions.

Agreed! I've set up matching donations for your matching donations among my friends. Thank you for supporting this cause...I think a lot of mental conditions go ignored and un-healed as a consequence of not understanding these substances well (both the benefits and side effects).

Any chance I can get you on my show, anonymously? I have so many questions. This is Chris DeRose.

This is fantastic news. MDMA and psychedelics when taken in the right setting with the right support people can be incredibly healing. Right now it's primarily focused on PTSD and other traumas, but it can be a powerful experience for improving relationships or personal growth as well.

I can anecdotally confirm this. I took MDMA under pretty normal party circumstances and honestly it was life changing. I've found it easier to be friendly, talkative, relaxed, and positive, even weeks later. I'm interested to see how long these effects last. My intrusive thoughts have been lowered and my overall outlook is more positive.

I don't have PTSD, but I do have depression, anxiety, and unofficially, I probably lie on the autism spectrum.

Can I prove anything with my sample size of one with plenty of confounding variables? Of course not. But does it make me personally believe the studies that have indicated it can be a good treatment for mental disorders are valuable and true? Absolutely.

I strongly believe that safe, controlled administration of pure, clean MDMA is something every adult should have the opportunity to legally try, especially in cases where evidence supports benefit to a psychological condition. And more research should happen. The mindset of "all drugs are heroin" has got to go.

I'm not advocating people taking pills they bought on the street, but I do support legalising of drugs that, when pure and controlled in dose like pharmaceutical medicine, don't cause a significant number of deaths or violence - such as MDMA and marijuana.

I strongly support destigmatization of drugs and more research, and the breakdown of the black and white border of "the government decides which drugs are good and which drugs are evil and everything else is for violent crackheads."

I'm glad to hear about your life changing experience! MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, as done by MAPS, involves 12 therapy sessions along with 3 MDMA-assisted therapy sessions; as such, I expect the results to be stronger than MDMA under party circumstances.

The Phase 2 trials have showed that 63% no longer meets the criteria of PTSD 2 months after the last MDMA session, as compared to 25% for the placebo.

As for how long your results may last, another study conducted by MAPS after 2.5 years found that the effects have generally still persisted.

The mindset of "all drugs are heroin"

Ironically enough, heroin is one of the few of these banned substances that is actually approved normally for medical use [0] (Not in the USA actually, according to this reference).

The name "Heroin" itself, was a trademark of the Bayer corporation [1]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin#Medical_uses

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin#History

Have plenty of friends that have overcome social anxiety they've had their entire lives with just one night of MDMA.

I just also want to note that there are also people who have experienced negative reactions with just one night of MDMA. All drugs have side effects.

While I think MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is extremely promising, MDMA itself is definitely not risk free (especially when obtained from unregulated and adulterated sources); and various complications can and do occur.

It honestly feels like this is what has happened. I have to talk on the phone all day at my job and was not suited to it at all, and I won't pretend I suddenly enjoy it, but now I find it way easier to get thru than I did before.

I'll probably do it again. I just wish there were more studies so I could know how often is safe and optimal to take it.

On the very safe side: Not more often than every 6 weeks. Ideally not more than 15 doses in lifetime (that's what MAPS guidelines say). Stop once you are sad beyond the 'blue Tuesday' (not everyone has a blue Tuesday, but after repeated use it usually starts to happen and gets worse). There is quite some literature, sadly not nicely structured and concentrated in one place as far as I know.

I belive what you're saying isn't true and neither can I find a direct link to a MAPS guideline saying anything about the 15 doses in a lifetime.

In my experience I had blue mondays way worse on my first 3 times, and then I've got to the point where I am no longer blue on the days after. That would be my 6 times over a 5 year period.

I would have to search for that, but limiting your total cumulative dose makes sense in light of research showing adverse brain changes in longtime and/or heavy users.

The 6 weeks number is more a rule of thumb. For some it's longer, for others shorter. In the beginning, it may not matter, but if you browse drug forums for a while, you'll see the pattern 'don't do it too often' emerge.

6 times over a 5 year period looks quite safe. I have some friends who have used MDMA more than that and some of them started to have longer 'sad' or 'depressed' periods, sometimes stretching into months. Again, it would be great if there was an authoritative manual for all of this, but I don't think something like that exists.

Probably best to get a testing kit from e.g. DanceSafe[0] to at least confirm the stuff you've bought has MDMA in it. It is not uncommon for meth or other stuff (2C-B, or just inert filler) to be sold as MDMA.

(For the pedants: the positive test for the presence of MDMA does not prove that the substance isn't adulterated, but it's certainly better than a negative result.)

[0]: https://dancesafe.org/

Read Phikal by Alexander Shulgin, plenty of interesting information in there.

Really? I'd always thought Shulgin's PiHKAL [0] (Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved) was more of a technical book. I'd never realised there was a more qualitative aspect to it. I'll be sure to check it out!

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PiHKAL

Yea the first half of the book is a brief story of his life, that's a really interesting read for sure.

Scott Alexander has an interesting review: http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/08/11/book-review-pihkal/

Same for me.

I took a bunch of molly, 20 minutes later gave my friend a hug and that was it.

> under pretty normal party circumstances

Were you alone or with friends? Home or out?

I'm not sure what sort of parties you go to, but home alone isn't much of a party by most definitions...

It's a great movie though.

Oh I skipped over the word party

I was at a New Years party at a few different nightclubs. With a friend who was also on it, and met a bunch of others that night too.

Yes there are also clinical trials underway with couples therapy comorbid with I think anxiety? or depression? (there needs to be a disease associated with it iirc it just can't be couples therapy)

This is fantastic. I recently helped a few of the NGOs selected by Pineapple get their tech together to accept the funds. It gave me a chance to learn more (as much is public) about the fund and love hearing about bolder moves like this to make such an impact. Being close to the NGOs that did receive the funds, I can say first hand just how much of a difference this macro-funding is making for real orgs that care so much about change. @Pine thank you for giving a damn.

Thanks Jim! Let me know if there's anything I can do to make things easier for the NGOs!

Some days, I still wake up and I'm a little bit astonished about the impact that my bitcoins can have. I certainly would've never predicted this when I first got into bitcoin.

do the funds sent to these recipients remain btc and are leveraged against as an asset or are they converted to fiat?

Yes! Just sent you an email. Cheers.

Thanks for all that you are doing with the donations. It really shows great integrity which is in rare supply these days.

I know it's a long shot and some people are gonna rag on me-- but I want to ask, are you/the fund, at all interested in experimental digital physics? I've had this project on the backburner for a while, have been reading textbooks on automata, partial differential equations, and particle physics to get to a place where I can better engineer model universes.

The gist of the project in a few words, is to create a simple 2d universe with enough information dynamics to allow for universal computation and most importantly, evolution. Conway's "Game of Life" is turing complete, aka universal, as are many automata and digital simulations. However, these models were not designed with evolution in mind..nor simple principles like the duality between mass and energy-- or analogously in a simple digital realm, storage and movement.

This universe that we reside in might be complex and hardly simulatable in all its glory with our current computational powers. However, if we strip out EM, the weak force, the strong force, maybe even gravity..go down to 2 spatial dimensions, we still might be able to produce a universe in which computers form, and evolution takes hold to produce intelligent forms. Now, I am not asserting that intelligence of our caliber will form or if it is even probable. But I think this endeavor is worth some salt.

I've written a blog post[1] more about the proposal but it mostly reiterates what I mentioned here. There is also the movie which is amateur but still informative and entertaining.[2]

My email is in my profile in case you are at all interested in pursuing the proposal.



[1] https://scrollto.com/life-a-universe-simulation/

[2] http://amzn.to/2qWUFQC

From the press release:

"If this funding challenge is met in gifts, grants, and multi-year pledges, MAPS will have raised sufficient funds to complete its Phase 3 trials."

That statement is huge. The idea that MAPS has successfully taken a compound through the entire FDA approval process using only donations is kinda amazing. They received breakthrough status with the FDA, they are starting phase 3 trials, and the only thing holding them back is an amount of money that would be a drop in the bucket for a big pharma company.

Pineapple Fund is seriously awesome, really warms my heart at the great things that they're funding. :)

Thanks :)

PineappleFund, if you can see this you’ve been banned/marked as dead for some reason.

This is fantastic news! I did an actual fistpump seeing this in the HN list this morning. In my anonymous, just-another-person-on-the-internet opinion, there isn't a lot out there that holds more potential for humanity at the moment than furthering our understanding (and consequent _responsible_ use of) psychedelics.

A huge thank you to Pine for supporting healing-driven science and noticing that MAPS is doing this particularly difficult work with efficiency and integrity.

It's been said a bunch of times, but it should be said a bunch more times: what pineapplefund is doing is incredible. I can only hope that is how all of us would react to that sort of windfall.

Usually MDMA has the backlash of lowering the amount of serotonin release in your brain the days after you take it, which makes you feel down. The so-called tuesday blues. So how come these people in these treatments aren't getting more depressed after their few hours of excitement?

> Usually MDMA has the backlash of lowering the amount of serotonin release in your brain the days after you take it, which makes you feel down. The so-called tuesday blues

Usually MDMA has absolutely no observable backlash (it may still harm your brain though, even if you don't feel it, I don't know if it will or not) if you don't take it more often than once in 3 months (or 1 month if you insist, but absolutely never more often), avoid taking too much of it, take enough piracetam, magnesium and antioxidants (acetyl-l-carnitine, acetyl-l-cysteine, vitamins E and C, lipoic acid, CoQ10, green tea extract, grape seed extract etc) before, during and after the MDMA trip, take L-tryptophan+piracetam after the trip, smoke some weed (but don't do it in advance - this can cause a panic attack and nausea), drink enough water, sleep well and take L-tryptophan+piracetam again when you get up. What will follow is usually going to be a rather pleasant state called "afterglow". Taking emoxypine, piracetam, magnesium and St. John's wort during the days after to actually restore the receptors can also be a good idea. I have also heard eating some psilocybin shrooms can prevent MDMA hangover too but I doubt combining psychedelics is a good idea for everybody.

DISCLAIMER: The above is a piece of theoretical knowledge provided for harm-reduction purposes only and not even proven scientifically (I'd be glad if the researchers could consider checking it). Use it at your own risk. Don't take what is not legal in your country. I don't recommend taking MDMA without a prescription though I do recommend to consider harm-reduction measures if you decide to take it. Anyway, make sure you are not allergic to any of the substances you are going to take, are not taking any drugs that may interact with them and don't have any other contraindications.

You kind of contradict yourself by saying there is no backlash and then giving a list of supplements to reduce the backlash...

It's proven that your brain down-regulates serotonin after taking MDMA, which can last a couple of days (or even longer). What's not proven is those supplements you mention. They are the go-to advice you find on websites like rollsafe etc. but that's all based on shaky science (small control groups, non peer-reviewed papers, tests on mice that might not reflect on humans etc.). Basically MDMA has not been researched well enough on humans (so thanks Pineapple fund for improving this situation). There's also no evidence that supports 'afterglow' and the supplements you mention are mainly antioxidants (and magnesium to reduce jaw clenching) that will reduce the oxidation in the brain, but doesn't affect the serotonin levels. Another good way to reduce oxidation is to keep your body cooled (but hard to do at parties). Taking 5-HTP the days after might have an effect on serotonin levels, but again, research is lacking.

> You kind of contradict yourself by saying there is no backlash and then giving a list of supplements to reduce the backlash...

What I am saying is there will certainly be some backlash if you don't do anything to prevent it but you can (or you can not - sure I can't say these advices will help everybody, perhaps some of these may even harm somebody if they have some specific contraindications) effectively prevent about 99% of it. Perhaps my grammar is not perfect but I hope the idea is fairly easy to get.

> What's not proven is those supplements you mention.

Sure, not proven any credible way. Hopefully the researchers will read this thread, take these in consideration and prove or disprove some parts.

> tests on mice

In fact there have been quite enough "testing" on humans though it's neither scientifically clean (no double-blind placebo-controlled trials, no large control groups observed, no measurements etc) nor official enough for obvious reasons. Everything is based on personal experience people share anonymously, but believe me - though not formally credible nor systematic this data is very far from being entirely mythical and useless. It's absolutely worth testing by researchers we are talking about and, well... by unaccredited enthusiasts who are going to to engage in the research on their own perhaps.

> There's also no evidence that supports 'afterglow'

Sure, no evidence, just reportedly-systematic experience of anonymous individuals. Let's just say it may cause this state, not that it necessarily will.

> and magnesium to reduce jaw clenching

Magnesium is not just to reduce jaw clenching, it's also an NDMA antagonist, known to prevent amphetamine-type drugs tolerance. And it is also an important electrolyte that you may loose if you dink, sewat and pee excessively.

> keep your body cooled (but hard to do at parties)

MDMA is, arguably, much more fun and much more safe to take at home together with just the one you love. I especially discourage taking it at parties and especially mixing it with alcohol.

> but doesn't affect the serotonin levels... Taking 5-HTP the days after...

That's why I recommend L-tryptophan. Tough less-famous than 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) for a number of reasons, it can be considered a more natural and more safe alternative to 5-HTP. L-tryptophan is the essential amino-acid naturally meant to be consumed regularly (it occurs naturally in many foods and also available in pure form as an over-the-counter supplement) your body uses to produce the amounts of 5-HTP (and then serotonin) it needs from it.

Also St. John's wort is known to upregulate serotonin receptors and increase of serotonin (!!!up to potentially life-threatening levels if combined with other serotonin-boosting substances so never take it together with MDMA, only the day after!!!).

Piracetam and emoxypine are not only antioxidants (in fact I don't even know if piracetam is an antioxidant at all) but nootropics that may improve brain blood flow, oxygen consumption and synaptic transmission, modulate the receptor complexes of the brain membranes by increasing their binding ability, stabilize biomembranes (i.e. membrane structures of blood cells - erythrocytes and thrombocytes during their haemolysis or mechanical injury accompanied by the formation of free radicals), have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory action, change the monoamine level and increases the dopamine content in the brain etc.

> but again, research is lacking.

That's why it's so great to read about the ladies and gentlemen at the Pineapple Fund going to fund the research and that MAPS is undertaking it. And that's why it's so important to share every potentially valuable idea on the subject with them so they can use it in the research.

There are 2 reasons I am writing this here:

1. I hope this can help people (though I am not sure it will help everybody) to save their health and prevent unpleasant experiences (as far as I've heard overwhelming majority of people who try MDMA experiences rather severe backlashes - this suggests they are doing it wrong and cause damage to their brains).

2. I hope this can provide the researches with ideas to start with when looking for safety measures to be proven scientifically. Surely "making sure that your schedule is clear of obligations the next day" is always a great idea but I think the stuff I've described above (including the previous commentary) should better be used too.

Piracetam is not approved by the FDA for any medical use and it is not permitted to be sold as a dietary supplement, so it can neither be prescribed nor sold OTC. It may be possible to import it, but that's legally questionable; then again, if you're using MDMA, you're not concerned with questionable legality.

In this case the researchers ought to test it too so it could be approved by the FDA together with MDMA because piracetam alone makes HUGE difference. If you are going to take MDMA and can choose only one supplement to use to protect your brain from adverse effects - that is to be piracetam (of course something better may exist but I have never heard of anything better so far). I can't confirm this scientifically but I could bet whoever has tried it (or at least the majority of them) will tell you this is true.

By the way I live in Europe and have been taking piracetam (it is an approved medicine available at every drugstore here, over-the-counter in some countries, on prescription in others) every day (making just occasional pauses for a month or two) during about 15 years already and man it's just so great I don't want to live in a country where I can't get it easily. In my opinion (based on my own long-term systematic experience with it) piracetam is an essential for brain fitness, good quality of life, physical, creative, spiritual, educational and professional self-realization. And I have never had a headache during these years (except slight headakes that I had a couple of times after having drank a way too much alcohol) although I used to have headache almost every day when I was a child and wasn't taking piracetam!

Here is the source of the most of this knowledge by the way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlMxTpONKT0 Adam at PsychedSubstance does pretty good job educating people about how to do the stuff right without getting your brains fried. His advices do work great, it would surely be awesome if the reserachers could validate and/or improve them scientifically (or at least make use of them practically so nobody will actually get sad or experience any other adverse effects anyway).

How would you know that his advices (sic) work "great" without any research?

The only problem with MDMA is it is not legal in the majority of countries. Up to hundreds thousands (something less maybe, but still a lot) of people all over the world would gladly submit reports about their experiences of taking MDMA together with and without these substances (piracetam, magnesium, antioxidants etc) if this was not associated with risk of getting busted by the authorities. I have no doubt his advices would have been proven statistically then.

I've read up a bit on the research, and it sounds like a next-day or 48-hour "blues period" is par for the course after an MDMA session. They mitigate this problem by making sure that your schedule is clear of obligations the next day and warning the patient about it ahead of time.

The impact of MDMA in these trials is that it's not "a few hours of excitement": the drug often helps the patient make large, permanent breakthroughs in their trauma or self-image that wouldn't be possible without the "life preserver" of the substance. Going through the trauma and reorienting oneself to it in a new, healthy way seems much more possible (to many people anyway, certainly those with full-on diagnosable PTSD) with the help of MDMA.

Perhaps they are. The question is whether these treatments (combined with talk therapy) lead to positive long-term mental health outcomes.

One big issue not addressed in this post, how is MAPS differentiating between PTSD and BLAST[1] in this CT? They have identical symptoms, but one is psychological and one is physical. Being unable to differentiate them could cause some SERIOUS error in the results. Have you thought about how you are going to address that?

[1]BLAST is a traumatic brain injury similar to CTE. It is caused by shockwaves emanating from explosives. Symptoms are near identical to PTSD.

One could select for people who were not subject to an actual explosion?

If their target audience is PTSD patients, they are looking at a primarily veterans as participants. It's pretty hard to determine if a veteran was exposed to an explosion or not.

An enormous number of people suffer from PTSD who are not veterans. People who have been raped, witnessed crimes, etc. could all suffer PTSD. Trauma can be almost anything if it causes a negative impact (e.g., depression, anxiety) in the future, and persons suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of such trauma would likely be diagnosed with comorbid PTSD.

i for one welcome our new crypto-currency funded drug research clinical trials. Please try to be as ethical and scrupulous when doing your research as possible: it's important that we have high quality scientific results, regardless of whether they support our hypotheses, so that people trust the outcomes.

This seems like evidence towards Gwern's theory that pineapple fund is a retired dark net drug dealer...

It could be, but I think the purpose of a fund like this should be to target organizations that are 'unpalatable' to other donation sources, and MAPS is a great example.

Oh yeah, I'm all for it. Just noticing.

Very nice, on reddit people suggested they donate the interest alone like University endowments do

They could buy a bunch of masternodes because those are dividend producing assets in the cryptocurrency space

The yields should be pretty good

Saving lives, changing lives, moving science forward - all better than 6-10% returns.

Kind of the whole point of charities is that the work they do is a better return than the market. Otherwise, every charity would be an endowment and they would just consume the 6-10% annual returns for their work.

A lot of charities do like 5% nonprofit stuff and 95% for profit

Despite ideals it makes your rebuttal moot

If all charities do that, his point is moot. Or if the most effective charities do that, his point is moot.

Which charities do this, and why should we believe they're the most effective?

> and why should we believe they're the most effective?

Whoever gave you that idea?

That practice has nothing to do with how the world is changed.

I believe most charities practice this, I saw a presentation on it with a bunch of accredited investors, don't have the source.

You can't will your alternate reality into existence.

> > and why should we believe they're the most effective? > Whoever gave you that idea?

1. This quesiton makes no sense. 2. The question is how high the returns are--do they exceed the returns of investment. That would depend on the effectiveness of the charity.

> I believe most charities practice this, I saw a presentation on it with a bunch of accredited investors, don't have the source.

Charities report their opex. I've never seen one listed as 95%. Most are <10%. Some, like Mozilla and ACLU are split between Foundation and Corporation, but most are not.

> You can't will your alternate reality into existence.

So...you made some claims. I asked for evidence. You refused. I provided counter-evidence.

I'm pretty sure you're just trolling now. Or arguing in bad faith, at minimum.

[unpopular opinion, criticism is welcome]

People who build cheap cars/smartphones/clothes/food/anything usually don't care about poor people at all, even if poor people benefit the most from those cheap protducts/services.

They care about profits in $$$

$$$ incentives bring the most value to poor people, so the best motivation I can think of for improving society is money-making businesses .

wrong thread ?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact