In Cell Press, researchers at the University of California, Davis set out to develop psychedelic treatments for mental health problems without hallucinogenic effects.
Known as psychlight, the genetically encoded fluorescent sensor could establish hallucinogenic potential through the indication of serotonin 2A receptor activation. The serotonin 2A receptor, or 5-HT2AR, the target of psychedelic drugs.
“Here, we developed psychLight, a genetically encoded fluorescent sensor based on the 5-HT2AR structure. PsychLight detects behaviorally relevant serotonin release and correctly predicts the hallucinogenic behavioral effects of structurally similar 5-HT2AR ligands,” the study reads.
“We further used psychLight to identify a non-hallucinogenic psychedelic analog, which produced rapid-onset and long-lasting antidepressant-like effects after a single administration.”
The study concluded: “The advent of psychLight will enable in vivo detection of serotonin dynamics, early identification of designer drugs of abuse, and the development of 5-HT2AR-dependent non-hallucinogenic therapeutics.”