A non-hallucinogenic version of the psychedelic drug ibogaine, with potential for treating addiction, depression and other psychiatric disorders, has been developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis. A paper describing the work is published on Dec.9th in Nature.
Ibogaine is extracted from the plant Tabernanthe iboga. There are anecdotal reports that it can have powerful anti-addiction effects such as reducing drug cravings and preventing relapse. But there are also serious side-effects, including hallucinations and cardiac toxicity, and the drug is a Schedule 1 controlled substance under U.S. law.
Olson’s laboratory at UC Davis is one of a few in the U.S. licensed to work with Schedule 1 substances. They set out to create a synthetic analog of ibogaine which retained therapeutic properties without the undesired effects of the psychedelic compound. Olson’s team worked through a series of similar compounds by swapping out parts of the ibogaine molecule. They engineered a new, synthetic molecule which they named tabernanthalog or TBG.