The increasing interest in psychedelic investment opportunities, including some recent developments in China, has led some analysts to begin studying the psychedelic patent landscape. Given the relatively small amount of research in the psychedelic space, very little IP has been generated to date. Two exceptions to this rule include world-renowned mycologist Paul Stamets and CaaMTech, LLC. The UK based pharmaceutical company, COMPASS Pathways has also filed some psilocybin related patent applications, but they appear to be relatively narrow in terms of both the subject matter and geographical relevance.
Paul Stamets is one of the leading authorities on psychedelic mushrooms. See, e.g., Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, by Paul Stamets, which is arguably the leading book on magic mushrooms. He is also an inventor of several patents, including some in the psychedelic space. On April 11, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”) published a new patent application by Mr. Stamets.
This article focuses on Mr. Stamets’s new application, US Patent Application serial number 16/211,281 (filed Dec. 6, 2018; herein “the ‘281 Application”). The ‘281 Application is a continuation of Mr. Stamets’s earlier filed U.S. Patent Application serial number 15/494,503, (filed Apr. 23, 2017), which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/365,982, (filed Jul. 23, 2016). Juxtaposing these two applications raising some interesting questions about the direction of psilocybin research and technology. Or, at least they may signal a change in Paul Stamets’s research focus, which may be significant to the industry in its own right.
Changing Focus of Stamets Patent Applications
Mr. Stamets’s new application (the ‘281 Application) claims a broader subject matter than the earlier filed application. The (earlier) ‘503 Application was titled “Compositions and methods for enhancing neuroregeneration and cognition by combining mushroom extracts containing active ingredients psilocin or psilocybin with erinacines or hericenones enhanced with niacin.” The new ‘281 Application is simply titled “Psilocybin compositions.”
Arguably, the differences between the application titles illustrate Mr. Stamets’s intentions to broaden the scope of his earlier disclosure– changing the focus from (A) methods comprising at least three ingredients (psilocin or psilocybin + erinacines or hericenones + niacin) to (B) compositions containing three ingredients (a psilocybin derivative + psilocybin mushrooms or extracts + niacin). The later-described compositions do not require erinacines or hericenones, which were an essential aspect of the original disclosure.
The evolution of the claims in the ‘281 and ‘503 Applications follow a similar trend.
The claims of Mr. Stamets’s earlier filed application (the ‘503 Application) were directed entirely to methods (not compositions), and those methods included more limitations regarding the compositions. Claim 1 of the ‘503 Application recites:
1. A method for improving neurological health of an animal comprising: administering a therapeutically effective amount of a composition to an animal, wherein the composition comprises one or more of psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, norbaeocystin, salts thereof, or combinations thereof, one or more of erinacines, hericenones or combinations thereof, and niacin.
By contrast, the most recent ‘281 Application focuses on compositions. Claim 1 recites:
1. A composition comprising:
psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, norbaeocystin, or salts thereof, psilocybin mushrooms or extracts thereof, or combinations thereof; and
Compositions Combining Psilocybin Derivatives + Cannabinoids
Another interesting difference between Mr. Stamets’s earlier disclosure (the ‘503 Application) and the latest published application (the ‘281 Application) is his increased focus on combinations of psilocybin derivatives with cannabinoids.
For example, Claim 6 of the new ‘281 Application recites:
6. A composition comprising:
psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, norbaeocystin, or salts thereof, psilocybin mushrooms or extracts thereof, or combinations thereof;
Cannabis extracts comprising cannabidiol, tetrahydrocannabinol, or combinations thereof; and
By contrast, the earlier disclosure provided only a limited general disclosure of this idea. For example, claim 11 of the (earlier) ‘503 Application disclosed the following within claim 11:
11. The method of claim 1, wherein the composition additionally comprises one or more of (Bacopa monnieri), Gotu kola (Centella asiatica), Gingko (Gingko biloba), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), Hu Zhang (Polygonum cuspidatum), Oregano (Origanum vulgare, Origanum onites), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, Rosmarinus eriocalyx, Rosmarinus species), Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Green Tea (Camellia sinensis), lavender (Lavandula spica and Lavandula species), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), oat straw (Avena sativa and Avena byzantine), Diviner’s Sage (Salvia divinorum), ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria species), Tabernanthe iboga, Voacanga africana, Tabernaemontana undulate, peyote (Lophophora williamsii), morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor, Argyreia nervosa), Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica or Cannabis ruderalis, or combinations thereof.
Accordingly, the newer application narrows the focus considerably from (A) methods including compositions that contain (any one of) an extensive list of plants, to (B) composition having several specific compounds from one specific plant.
Discussion and Remaining Questions
Although neither Mr. Stamets’s ‘281 Application nor his ‘502 Application have issued as patents, the evolution of the claims in these applications suggest that Mr. Stamets has substantially changed the focus of his invention.
- Mr. Stamets’s original focus on neuroregenerative methods has evolved into a focus on all-purpose compositions. Does this signify a departure from neuroregeneration research and development? If not, why change the focus from particular methods to all-purpose compositions?
- Mr. Stamets’s original focus on erinacines or hericenones or both has virtually disappeared in the latest application. The original disclosure was clear that the disclosed compositions all included niacin combined with erinacines or hericenones. But the latest published application (the ‘281 Application) appears to eliminate these once critical components from the compositions. Why the change of heart regarding erinacines or hericenones? Given that these ingredients were critical ingredients throughout the original disclosure, why aren’t they important now?
- One clear consistency between Mr. Stamets’s ‘281 Application and his ‘502 Application is the absolute requirement that all of the disclosed methods or compositions include niacin. Arguably the niacin component of the invention is more important than even the psilocybin derivative: The disclosure provides for some flexibility regarding the chemical compositions of the mushrooms/mushroom extracts; But, all methods and compositions must include niacin. Arguably, Mr. Stamets’s applications are most appropriately categorized as “Niacin Compositions.”
- Why the new and specific focus on psilocybin derivatives and cannabinoids? These are all naturally occurring molecules with therapeutic potential. But, the earlier application only listed the cannabis plant alongside dozens of other plants and fungi. In the most recent application, cannabis and specific cannabinoids have been elevated to a level of importance that is surprisingly inconsistent with the original filing.