Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Timothy Ko.
Timothy Ko came to the psychedelic space as a result of his deeply personal connections with depression, anxiety, and addiction. As the CEO of Entheon Biomedical, an organization working on a legal IV DMT protocol, Timothy is dedicated to providing an effective and scalable therapy that will serve as a vital resource for those afflicted with a substance-use disorder, and who are wanting to reclaim their lives. In this episode, Timothy and Paul discuss their personal experiences with psychedelics, the benefits of DMT in overcoming addiction, and the life-affirming power of a new perspective.
Vancouver as a hub for the growing psychedelic space.
Which is more important: decriminalization or medicalization?
Why DMT is an excellent choice for addiction recovery.
How Timothy used DMT to reconcile and overcome trauma.
Entheon’s intravenous DMT protocol, currently in development.
The varied professional background that brought Timothy to the psychedelic space.
Thinking about the human lives behind addiction statistics.
The efficacy of psychedelics versus antipsychotics and anti-anxiety medications.
How psychedelics can help with “that underpinning sense of nihilism”.
What does poetry have in common with psychedelic intent?
Democratizing psychedelics so that everyone has access.
0:00:00.0 Paul Austin: Hey, listeners. Today’s episode is with Timothy Ko, the CEO of Entheon Biomedical, who is developing an intravenous DMT treatment that can be titrated up and down, based on the type of experience an individual wants to have. I interviewed Timothy as part of the Psychedelic Insiders series where I’m interviewing CEOs from across the psychedelic industry. We’re now republishing this interview through Sporestore’s platform.
0:00:26.7 PA: Welcome to the Sporestore podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin, here to bring you cutting edge interviews with leading scientists, entrepreneurs and medical professionals who are exploring how we can integrate psychedelics in an intentional and responsible way for both healing and transformation. It is my honor and privilege to bring you these episodes as you get deeper and deeper into why these medicines are so critical to the future of humanity. So let’s go and let’s see what we can explore and learn together in this incredibly important time.
0:01:06.0 PA: Hey, listeners, and welcome back to the podcast. So this next episode is with Timothy Ko, who is the CEO of Entheon Biomedical. We originally recorded this podcast as a live conversation and interview as part of a Psychedelic Insiders series that I co-hosted with another media platform in the psychedelic space called Microdose, where I’ve been interviewing CEOs of companies in the psychedelic space. And I’ve probably done maybe 8-9 of those interviews and chose to republish the one with Timothy Ko through Sporestore’s platform, because it was one of the favorite ones that I had a chance to do.
0:01:43.8 PA: And what I love about Timothy is, A, the company that he is the CEO of, Entheon Biomedical, is just doing some really, really interesting stuff with IV DMT that can be titrated up and down to either intensify or de-intensify an experience to help facilitate the therapeutic process. As any of you who have done DMT know, sometimes you can do a little bit way too much DMT, or sometimes you just don’t do enough DMT. And part of the difficulty is, smoking DMT can be a little inaccurate. So the fact that they’re developing sort of a medical intervention with intravenous DMT is super fascinating by itself, and then in addition to that, just the conversation that I had with Timothy was, yes, about psychedelics, and yes, about Entheon, and yes, about the emerging space, but Timothy also has a background as a poet. He studied poetry in university, and so we got into a lot of philosophy and metaphysical stuff as well, which I always love to discuss.
0:02:51.3 PA: So in this episode, you’ll hear a little bit more about Timothy’s story in terms of why he started Entheon Biomedical, you’ll hear a little bit about the approach that Entheon Biomedical is taking. And I think we’ve published very few interviews with emerging CEOs in the psychedelic space, and obviously, there’s been a ton of developments in the last year to 18 months. So although this is one of the first ones that we’re publishing, there will be many others in the future that are coming out, which I will choose selectively, based on the type of companies that are starting to enter this space. So without further ado, we bring you Timothy Ko, CEO of Entheon Biomedical.
0:03:32.8 PA: Timothy, where are you calling in from?
0:03:35.3 Timothy Ko: Vancouver, beautiful British Columbia, west coast of Canada.
0:03:40.9 PA: City proper Vancouver or outside?
0:03:42.9 TK: No, just outside. We have an office in a beautiful little community called Belcarra. It’s a lot less crowded, noisy, and parking is cheap. Vancouver proper, you might be paying $18 a day to park, and you’re just as likely to get ticketed, so…
0:04:00.2 PA: Don’t need that shit. In New York…
0:04:00.4 TK: Yeah. And we’ve got beautiful, I don’t wanna be gloating or anything, but we’ve got the beautiful bay out there, and we’re… A number of hiking trails around here, so it’s quite nice.
0:04:13.4 PA: You’ve been there for many years? You recently moved there? What’s your relationship like with Vancouver?
0:04:18.9 TK: No, I’ve… Born and raised in Vancouver. Yeah. I was sort of born in St. Paul’s Hospital, it’s a hospital in Vancouver, and lived mostly here, and it’s been a really weird sort of evolution of the city. It’s turned into a sort of global hub, I guess, but with it came some of the sort of requisite, or sort of accompanying sort of socio-economic disparities. And I don’t know how familiar you are with our downtown East side, but… Yeah.
0:04:47.2 PA: Somewhat familiar.
0:04:49.3 TK: Now, it’s sort of of epidemic proportions, and it’s just… Yeah, it’s a really jarring sight to sort of take in. We have so much of a wealth, but then just a few blocks away from downtown proper, you see… Yeah, I hate the term skid row, but that’s the sort of, I guess, most commonly understood nomenclature. And it is… Yeah. It’s of epidemic proportions. And so, yeah. I’ve been here, I love the place. Of course, there are some social issues that I think we wish had a better handle on. But yeah, I guess that’s where we’re sort of trying to help out, we’re trying to develop out something for people that so afflicted.
0:05:27.5 PA: Yeah. What’s the psychedelic scene like in Vancouver?
0:05:30.8 TK: It exists. Yeah, there is quite a bit of… So Ayahuasca ceremony that sort of happens pretty out in the open. There are some pretty well-known communities, I think prior to even the more recent decriminalization wave that’s been happening. There have been some easy to find, not too… Not cloaked in secrecy sort of cloak and dagger type of sort of facilitators and healers that have been using these medicines for over a decade that I’m aware of, and the scene here is quite big. Yeah, there’s some pretty prominent groups that sort of operate with a bunch of different psychedelics.
0:06:10.2 PA: And what about the investment, kind of the new companies and institutions, and what’s sort of the above ground psychedelic scene like?
0:06:18.7 TK: The above ground psychedelic scene, of course, I think, we’ve all seen it. You’re probably right centered in the stream of it. I think you’ve seen quite a bit of interest popping up. So yeah, Vancouver is right in the thick of things. I think there are some other psychedelic outfits that operate out of here. And yeah, there’s quite a bit of interest activity and there are a lot of people sort of feverishly looking to, I guess, get their hooks in. And so we’ve seen… We’ve been exposed to a lot of a lot of interest, so a lot of people that have made quite a bit of money in Cannabis, and they maybe misplace the understanding, this is Cannabis 2.0. When I think we all know that that’s not the case, but yeah, there’s been quite a buzz of activity here recently, and so some people are trying to make good on that and with a real intent of bringing something to fruition, and some others, not so much, but yeah. Luckily we’ve got people that we transit with or communicate with are of the variety that I think are trying to do some really substantial stuff.
0:07:31.5 PA: Do you have an advisory board yet for Entheon Biomedical?
0:07:34.9 TK: Yeah, we do. Yeah, it’s, in our estimation, it is pretty stellar. It’s like ’96 Dream Team. We’ve got the Magic Johnson, or we got like Larry Bird, and we’ve got a pretty star-studded cast. We’ve got Matthew Johnson, who I’m sure you’re aware of, Robin Carhart-Harris from Imperial, Christopher Timmermann. We recently brought on Malin Uthaug, also from Imperial, Dennis McKenna and Kenneth Tupper, who’s…
0:08:04.3 PA: Yeah, I like Ken. Ken’s a good friend.
0:08:06.6 TK: Ken knows everyone. Ken is… Yeah, he’s… And again, it’s really telling. I think to be a long-standing member of this community, yeah, you have to get it right and be on the right side of things, and work to satisfy the multiple voices and concerns that exist within the world of psychedelics. We’re in a very much business-focused component of the psychedelic sciences, but we all understand that this realm, this space is occupied by so many different stakeholders with so many different, yeah, interests and things that are super important to them. So Ken has been a really informing voice, just to make sure that, yeah, as you pursue the science thing, know that there are all these other voices that exist that, yeah, have just as much a legitimate claim to the importance of psychedelics as you do, right?
0:08:53.6 PA: So what’s the tension like in Vancouver between the decrim and the more medical? There’s Entheon, there’s Numinus, there’s a few others, but then [unclear speech], I also interviewed Dana Larsen for the podcast who opened a microdosing dispensary, so that’s more the decrim, the activist. What’s that sort of like dynamic and energy? ‘Cause Ken’s background is more… He worked for the Victoria Government, and was doing things related to drug policy, and then also had this background with Ayahuasca, so he’s not quite as medical as some of your other people I know. He would be more tied into that world than the other people on your advisory board.
0:09:36.9 TK: Yeah, so in terms of the conflict, I think you tried to say like the interplay, or…
0:09:40.5 PA: The tension, I would say, the tension, ’cause I don’t see it as a conflict. I think decrim is just as important as medicalization. In fact, I would say it’s more important than medicalization.
0:09:52.6 TK: Yeah, I haven’t been party to any sense of tension. I guess my personal take on it is that we need all paddles rowing in that direction. Ultimately, yeah, consenting adults should have access to the things that they deem useful or beneficial to them. We should operate under that pretense. And yeah, there are some people for whom there’s different ways of, I guess, accessing psychedelic medicines. Some people want to access it for personal enhancement, things that aren’t necessarily medicalized. And then there are medicalized conditions that will require a very rigorous, or stringently structured clinical trials and regulatory pathway. That being said, yeah, I think it… There is a probably very personal sort of foundational… There’s a foundational component that dictates what you’re comfortable with. Like in terms of the traditional ancestral medicine and with the accompanying metaphors and symbols and tradition of that, I think for a lot of people, that is the preferred way of going into it, saying like, “Hey, I’m partaking in this medicine, but it’s linked to this rich history with the symbols and messaging that is super meaningful and spiritual in nature.”
0:11:18.0 TK: But then I think based on your different cultural upbringing, or your… The importance of different various religiosity or whatever, those, I guess, symbols and that cultural context might not make sense. It may be a non-starter for them, and so yeah, seeing as like the entire… My estimation is, everyone could benefit, when safe, from psychedelics. I think there has to be a spectrum of different points of access for people. So we’re very much concerned with a population of people for whom, yeah, our focus is addiction, and yeah, that can be looked at, though it is a disease of despair, and maybe characterized as spiritual in nature, it is a medicalized condition with a very medicalized set of health benefits… Or health risks, and there’s a pathology there that yeah, what we’re trying to provide is something for that very specific population of people to access.
0:12:22.4 PA: And why did you choose DMT? Or is this just the initial focus on DMT and then expand? Are you also looking at Ibogaine, or are you looking at other tryptamines, or lysergamides? What’s that sort of research process?
0:12:37.9 TK: Well, DMT was sort of, it was like an iterative process. Honestly, I guess the backstory is that about three years ago, I was taking care of my brother. My brother was a multi-decades long drug user, and my parents didn’t know what to do. They were just like, you know, we don’t know how to understand what the best course of action here is, they’d sort of tried to help him, and that sort of razor-thin edge between helping and enabling is often crossed, and they’re losing their sanity and then… Yeah, I’ve sort of done some pretty intense personal work and things, and thanks, James, things over the course of my own sort of existence, the sort of requisite traumas that preceded my brother’s behavioral, the actual addictive behaviors, I was exposed to a lot of that stuff, too.
0:13:33.9 TK: But, yeah, following his death… Yeah, I knew from personal experience that DMT was hugely beneficial in my whole transforming process. I was undergoing some pretty intensive trauma therapies as recently as six or seven years ago. And, yeah, I was doing EMDR, lens wear stuff as well as whatever talk therapies and traditional psychotherapies, and I was really on the precipice of, I don’t know, some really bad cliff side that I’m glad I never found out what the depths of were. But yeah, that whole process was really… It was about a year and a half where I was in a state of fight or flight activation all the time, and just like everything was reminiscent of some trauma sort of attachments from my personal experience, and so yeah, I was like a really tough guy to get along with.
0:14:25.3 TK: And someone presented DMT to me in that time. And they said, “You got nothing to lose, at worse, it’s just a fun little trip, at best, something really cool could happen.” And so, yeah, I undertook this process of self-discovery. I’d used psychedelics before, but I’d never really ventured in the DMT space that much and, yeah, I got the pipe and I got the DMT and I sat down with it for probably 14 days, a couple of hours every day, and it was… Maybe not the most perfectly directed, I could have probably used one of your sort of training programs, a proper administration, but in the very peak and troughy experience that went from, “Oh, this is nice, visually, cool,” all the way to, “Woah, I’m beyond… I’m no longer tethered to reality,” there was this really meaningful introspective space where unbeknownst to me and not even solicited or requested by whatever that was, I was able to access emotion and memory that was so walled-off to me that I didn’t even have understanding of possessing.
0:15:35.2 TK: It was a very complex, I guess, home life as well as a cultural background, intergenerational trauma. My parents fled Korea sort of at the beginning of the war there and brought with them this desire to really be an optimal Canadian family with… And so that was on the premise of, “Everyone’s gotta perform, everyone’s gotta be great, da da dah.” But, yeah, I’d sort of lost or locked away stories that my father had told me about how he had suffered from mental health problems, and how that pressure resulted in the suicide of my uncle, who I never met, at the age of 17. All this stuff, wordlessly, beautifully, sort of lubricated by the sense of well-being but also challenging, difficult and sometimes confusing, like whatever. And there was more to it, of course, there was just stuff that was enjoyable and whatever, sort of like overloading.
0:16:33.4 TK: But, yeah, there was this understanding that at the end of that experience, that was something intrinsic to that experience that allowed me to reconcile a lot of these walled-off untouchable trauma that I had and then after that, my life was the best it had ever been, then that’s also inclusive of… Yeah, and I also… Prior to that, I had a really adversarial relationship with my brother, and though I lost my brother to addiction last year, in March of last year, I really do value the experience of that, going into my interactions with my brother with compassion. And so I don’t… It’s of course, there’s this huge medley of different varying factors that resulted in what I believe to be a improvement from where I was, but I knew that DMT was really instrumental in that, and then… So knowing that, and that’s only sort of a small anecdotal thing, really after my brother’s death, as I was in mourning, I couldn’t shake this idea that there had to be something better than what was available.
0:17:38.4 TK: And I knew, like it was sort of serendipitous timing, there was a lot of interest in psychedelics happening in around March or April of last year, and it kept crossing me, I kept coming across it and yeah. I got together with a few people and said, “Hey, we know there’s something here,” and they all shared their anecdotes. But we said, “Yeah, what we know is what we know. Obviously, there are way smarter people in this world, and we really wanna do something to help people like my brother. Let’s rely on them to provide us with what their best idea of a strong candidate for helping people with addiction issues is.”
0:18:19.5 TK: And then… Yeah, so pretty rapidly reached out to Matthew Johnson, Kenneth Tupper, Ron Carhart-Harris, and iterated this idea that DMT… Sorry, this is a very long story, my apologies, getting to the answer, but yeah, that a lot of classic psychedelics represent that potential to, I guess, help remedy some of the very indentured patterned, sort of dramatic thinking and behavioral sort of associations that come from trauma that are largely associated with addiction, like default mode network, just to totally laymanize it. But if your default patterning is very much rigid and set in your beliefs, your self beliefs, datura your world view and things like that are very much rigidly set, psychedelics prove be a reset for that.
0:19:09.0 TK: And Psilocybin and LSD are amazing, they’ve already proven to be sort of like efficacious in that regard, but there are some downsides to those molecules, right, sort of length of exposure to… Length of exposure, and with the extended trip time, the sort of opportunity for adverse response, and we understand that DMT has a lot of the same functions that these psychedelics do, but can be done, or can be delivered in a very controlled way to create these really meaningful, profound introspective experiences as an adjunct to therapy, but can be done in a way that if a person’s saying, “Woah, woah, woah, totally not ready. I need to hit the eject button,” whereas with other molecules, that eject button isn’t present.
0:19:55.4 TK: With DMT and the way that we’re administering it, there quite literally can be a red button that you say, “I’m done,” and that person can come to functional baseline over the course of 10 or 15 minutes. So we think that that’s one of the huge potential benefits to this, where we can create these powerful psychedelic experiences, but do so in a way that can be tailored a bit, and have that additional component of safety, should something go awry. Sorry for that big roundabout there, it’s a… I feel…
0:20:26.7 PA: So when it comes to the application method, is that… Are you doing an IV? Is that intra-muscular? What’s the approach for that?
0:20:33.9 TK: So without giving away everything, but we are developing a gradual dose form, a more controlled dose form of intravenous DMT administration. So I’m sure you’re aware the current ways of self-administering DMT tend to be a little bit spiky, I can go from a 3 out of 10, back down to 2 out of 10, to an 8 out of 10, into the 11. So from a therapeutic perspective, it’s really… Of course, it’s hard to administer DMT fumarates sort of smoke in a way that’s predictable. So yeah, what we’re trying to do is develop out a therapeutic dose curve where that person is gradually acclimated to the DMT experience and then kept at a therapeutic range. And so we’re investigating that, right… Of course, it’s a subjective measure, but what that therapeutic range is. And talking to some of our advisors, though that ego death event, that 10 out of 10 reality dissolves whatever it is, certainly cool, note-worthy and is, yeah, has a transformative type of feeling. There’s a presumption that there’s a level of experience that falls under that, where some of those more therapeutic effects can take place, and so we’re trying to fine tune, to get to that place… Where that place is.
0:22:01.5 PA: Fascinating.
0:22:03.2 TK: And then also, once they’re there, keeping them there for an extended period of time and determining what that length of time is. Our initial designs are somewhere from about 60 minutes to a little over, but seeing what’s tolerated. It’s a very intense experience, but yeah, seeing what’s well-tolerated and what’s actually therapeutically useful. So these are some of the parameters, I don’t wanna say exactly what is what just yet, but these are some of the parameters that we’re taking into humans in the spring, summer of next year.
0:22:42.5 PA: So to slightly go on a tangent, but we will weave it all back in, what is your professional background, before you started Entheon Biomedical?
0:22:53.5 TK: It’s varied. I’ve… Sort of that hard charging second or first generation immigrant background. I’ve been working my whole life. I’ve been running some private companies for my parents had run, from investments to retail, service. But then yeah, I did some capital market stuff in investor relations, so forming narratives and communicating company narratives to people. And then yeah, I was involved in a technology venture in the blockchain space previously. But yeah, interspersed within there is things as varied as being a carpenter, and vocationally actually intended to go to… I intended to be a poet, so that’s my vocational, or that’s my intended training for a larger part of a… Earlier part of my life, but more recently it’s technology and public markets.
0:23:50.9 PA: Interesting. Thank you for including that, that your vocation is a poet. So how does that training inform this professional path compared to others? So in other words, how does having a background in poetry, which is so rich with feeling, which I would argue the psychedelic experience has a much richer feeling than capital markets. Capital markets, finance tends to be very dry. So I’d be curious to hear about that interplay. What I’ve noticed is those who have personal psychedelic experiences tend to pursue some sort of path professionally that tends to have more resonance over a mid to long term. There’s not as much friction or resistance, and I’d be curious how that has played out in these interweaving ways with you.
0:24:39.5 TK: Interesting, yeah. I’ve not spent that huge amount of time reflecting on how my early poetry days really inform my career paths, but I guess one thing that all of my experiences have taught me is that there’s some component of… With a lot of the places that I… A lot of the spaces that I’ve worked in, a lot of it was new and burgeoning technologies and things of that nature, so it did bring with it the humility of not knowing. The humility of knowing that okay, in order to become competent in this space, there’s only so much that I can do, and I understand certain mechanics of public markets and things of that nature, but there are certain people that are far more, I guess, immersed, that I can rely on. And so it’s my job to give them the right platform to operate off of, give them the assurances that they have the support to do what they deem necessary.
0:25:34.4 TK: But, it’s a sort of balancing, right, between that and balancing it with the world of business, like where there needs to be a commercial outcome, so I don’t know how my poetry necessarily, and I maybe shouldn’t even have mentioned, but how that informs that.
0:25:49.7 PA: You can reflect on that in your next DNT experience…
0:25:55.8 TK: Yeah, okay. No, I do think… It has been… Well, not specifically that, but also like a background in sociology and psychology, like those were my areas of some interest and my… I can’t believe we’re talking about poetry, but the communication and felt experience, right, I think that’s so important, especially in this space, like the communication of that sort of resonant personal experience, I think is what I sort of focused on, I wasn’t… I can’t believe we are committing so much time to this poetry thing…
0:26:23.9 PA: Who is your favorite poet… Who’s your favorite poet?
0:26:25.9 TK: I did like some TS Eliot and Ginsberg and things of that…
0:26:30.5 PA: Okay, wow.
0:26:31.6 TK: Well, I was in…
0:26:34.5 TK: These are my earlier life, this is pre-DMT, I’m gonna tell you, this is pre-DMT where that was sort of soup of gravity in my mind, where it was a lot about the… Yeah, like… No, yeah, it was a heavy state of mind before some of my more recent, I guess, investigations, right.
0:27:00.1 PA: I mean… But that, I think that exploration, it’s like there’s an honesty in it, and I like those early, the kinda late 19th, early 20th century poets, especially the English ones, Yeats as well. Anyway, I can talk about DMT and poetry all day, I mean, you imagine the poems you could write with a really good microdose DMT experience, you know, that…
0:27:22.5 TK: I do think I have a few journals full of my scribbling from that time, I’ve yet to… I don’t… I haven’t unearthed them or gotten them out of storage and looked at them, I’m a little… That’s the other thing too, like, I mean, you’re right, like sort of reflecting on how you thought six years ago, it’s like cringe, die, cringe, ouch.
0:27:47.7 PA: That’s fun. Now, I just picked up a bunch of old journals from New York, ’cause I’m in New York for a little bit, I left some stuff there. They were… Burn all the journals, that’s what Mark Zuckerberg did, but like four, five, six years ago, reading through that, it’s actually… It’s really rich, it’s really interesting.
0:28:02.3 TK: No, and I actually did, I did take some time to reflect on some of the things I wrote when I was… I’ve always been writing, sort of reflecting on my own humanity and my place in society, and da da da, like one of the multitudinous sort of levels of whatever, personal… The Venn diagram overlap between what my specific intersectionality is and how that fits within a societal context. That’s been a thing that I’ve been thinking about since I was like 16, 17, and going back over some of those journals when I was 18 or 19, it’s sort of… I’m surprised at the level of clarity that I held then, and so it’s… Yeah, it is… As much as it’s cringe and oh, my God, I can’t believe I wrote that down and thought that, it is… It’s really important to know what… And I think, yeah, given…
0:28:53.0 TK: We talk about addiction as this thing often as numbers, where it’s just like, oh, these numbers. You know, in Vancouver, we had a 180-ish overdose deaths in April alone, and sometimes people think about that, say, “Oh, my God, that’s a huge number.” That’s like, how many deaths a day is that? Six deaths a day, and you go, oh, shit, that’s crazy. But then you think about that, and you understand that each of those people is attached not only a personal narrative of like difficulty, confusion, confusion, wanting to get better, sort of trying to compel themselves to get better, feeling disappointed, like not wanting to let people down, like the inherent trauma of being addicted to substances, that sense of my needs getting met, like I hurt physically and emotionally, I’m super alienated by society, like the numbers become immense.
0:29:47.7 TK: Like the numbers themselves are large, but then you attach that the family experience, like the sort of like associated levels of, I guess, yeah, like emotional difficulty and just sort of like experience, then it becomes like, holy, wow, those numbers alone are something that demands attention, but then you sort of extend that beyond into… Yeah, like how affecting that is for all the people that are touched by it, and yeah… Then it becomes a bit more pronounced where… Yeah, I think that’s a really important thing to… Yeah, to have in this space, we talk about depression and PTSD and things like that. And I think, without being pornographic about how bad these things are, it is a reality, it’s like the make-up of these things that we’re trying to help is a very human medley of experience that is… Yeah, that’s worthy of our attention, right. I think, well, often we get focused on the very practical like definition of these things, the numbers associated with it, the rate of rise, and so yeah, without going too deep into it, like these are human lines and so yeah.
0:31:01.4 PA: Well, it’s, you know, it’s fell on both… It’s not, like you were saying, an individual, it’s a community, it’s a family, it’s a community, and it’s also global, it’s an existential sorrow that sort of, you know, it’s a difficult time for many, and addiction is one part of this massive iceberg that we’re still… We’re not fully down to, we haven’t gotten to all of it, and that’s where these medicines become so important, whether it’s DMG or Psilocybin or MDMA, these at least offer a glimmer… Like some level of optimism, I would say, because they’re very life-affirming.
0:31:44.9 TK: Yeah, and it’s like that sense of connection to others and beyond, like that’s so important, it’s hard to really… In our marketing for what we do, it’s really hard to characterize, it’s like, oh, you don’t have a hard to understand sense of connection to a greater power or a sense of oneness with the… Everything in the material world and the immaterial world, it’s a really hard thing to market, but I think like it’s really important for people like us and sort of people that are observing internally in the space, to understand that, yeah, that’s where some of the potential benefit is, so that… That goes back to my… What I said earlier about… Yeah, the need for decrim in addition to the medicalize.
0:32:25.5 TK: I know that some people have said, some people in the medical space have told the decrim people, “Don’t mess this up for us,” like I’ve heard that and I think that’s a strange debate and yeah, but I think yeah, there’s so much… Like, so these diseases that aren’t necessarily conveniently characterized often as like, oh, depression, that’s like a diagnosable form of depression, like this sense of ennui or whatever, existential anxiety. It’s like, yeah, some of these things aren’t super conveniently characterized, but we know that psychedelics have a sort of potential benefit and what gets what, especially in post or during COVID times, like the social isolation and the degradation of social fabric, like our understanding of connection to one another, it’s like, so much of that is like, yeah, it’s going to be crazy to see the sort time lagged cascade of mental health outcomes as well as societal outcomes that come from this shake-up of our understanding of normalcy.
0:33:36.7 TK: So yeah, psychedelics. There’s nothing I know sort of pharmaceutically that helps you get a sense of connectedness and a positive outlook that psychedelics do, and this is speaking from personal experience, like I have no shame in saying that in my early years, I was massively medicated. I was 14 years old on Effexor or antipsychotics, like high dose anxiolytics, things that were really symptom managing by way of muting my perception and by way of really, if my experiential sort of emotional, whatever, flexibility was pretty wild, as most teenagers are. It really did sort of shorten the window and so… And under those medications, like though I did not exhibit maybe so much of that outright anguish or sorrow, I didn’t experience… I didn’t certainly feel happier, and so I never felt more connected either.
0:34:44.7 TK: And so I think psychedelics are so awesome in that they sort of not just manage the symptoms, but go to that root, sort of that root source of emotion, that root source of disconnectedness, that root source of rigidity about the sense of like, oh yeah, the world is a gnarly place, the things that I’ve done make me a gnarly person, so I’m unfit for love, and the world isn’t a loving place anyway, it’s like that weird disparity about self-perception and outward perception, like… I don’t know how to medicate for that other than psychedelics, it’s hard to Paxil for that, it’s hard to Effexor for that. It’s an existential thing.
0:35:28.9 PA: Yeah, no, ’cause ultimately it’s a numbing. I’m curious, what came up for me was like, how did that influence your study of poetry, or did it? Only ’cause I would think poetry would bring so much feel, like just the study of something like that would bring so much feeling and it’s like it’s a connection at least to something great.
0:35:48.6 TK: I think… Well, back to poetry, a lot of that was a lot I was trying to… Sort of what my expression was early about… Yeah, the sense of… So I feel like a teenager, again, trying to get back and mind that, but a sense of voicelessness and entrapment, a voicelessness and I guess a condensing, compressing of who I was.
0:36:21.6 PA: And… Were you finished there?
0:36:23.3 TK: Oh, no. And so, yeah, it was interesting, we… That was a lot of what I wrote about. And that thing I talked about my outward world view and inward perception of self, it was like that made up… There was a big… It became very TS Elioty, where just like the world at large is this place of like, sort of the corroding place of whatever, and then me within it, I’m under the gravity and weight a bit. So, yeah.
0:36:52.7 PA: Well, it sort of is, like our industrial infrastructure, if you will, is corroding before our eyes, and I think the new berserk rule, you build very quickly and plant medicine will help with the creation of that new infrastructure. So based on that, where do you see the psychedelic space going in the next, let’s say, 5 to 10 years, so how is this going to develop, and what role do you think that will play in helping to sort of like… You know, help us get out of this existential mess that we find ourselves in. I always go back to… You know, Nietzsche, I think is one of the most prophetic philosophers about when we lose faith or hope or meaning in something beyond us, this concept of God being dead, like where do we… Like if things to turn into nothing, this pervasive nihilism. So how can psychedelics help effect… Address that in the next 5, 10, 15 years?
0:37:51.4 TK: Interesting, I wish I had a crystal ball about how that could take shape. I think intuitively we both know what these medicines do, and that sense of oppression and hopelessness, and this idea that we’re cogs in this wheel that… Of industrial, whatever, late stage capitalism, blah, blah, blah all that. Yeah, it becomes this really oppressive thing and your choices become thereby, whatever reduced, if you do have this underpinning sense of nihilism that does dictate your choices, your life choices, what you think is possible, your employment choices, your consumption choices, I think psychedelics can really have a cool effect in helping people to make those self-appraisals about wait… Maybe this impending sense of doom… At the sense that there is an inherent sense of scarcity and competition.
0:38:48.5 TK: Like maybe it’s not so scarce and maybe it’s not so competitive, or… And maybe it’s not so doom and gloom, and maybe I’m connected, and maybe I do have a sense of things will work out should I put forth the necessary feeling of goodwill as well as efforts, and also not to get into the secret or whatever about intention, but getting it back…
0:39:14.1 PA: A secret with intention?
0:39:15.7 TK: No, well, like [unclear speech] whatever, any sort of that idea about setting intention driving outcome.
0:39:25.1 PA: Like alchemy. So alchemizing…
0:39:25.3 TK: Yeah, you got it.
0:39:27.3 PA: Like a good poem. Alchemized like a good poem.
0:39:30.2 TK: Totally. But I guess the other thing is just like of that, like that sense of possibility and whatever, to pull it back to a person that is afflicted by a mental health condition, or whatever. It’s like, that absence of positive optimism or whatever, it really does limit what you’re able to do, right? I’ve been clinically depressed, I’m mono-polar depression, and my ability to yeah, like to self-start, or to even feel good, was just like it was zero. And so I think, yeah, psychedelics, the removal of hobbling, inhibiting things, I think we’ll see if, say if like a political action, or whatever, or personal action is required to foment, or bring about the next wave of change.
0:40:24.0 PA: The Sporestore.
0:40:25.1 TK: People that are inhibited and maybe not… Don’t feel emboldened or whatever able to contribute, which is sometimes the characteristic feeling of these diseases of despair. Yeah, I think once we start pulling the brakes off of people, we’d all be quite surprised as to how much potential people have to really effect change, right?
0:40:53.6 PA: Yeah, and then there’s all these viruses that are starting to get bad and worse, and it’s interesting. We live in interesting times. We’ll stay a little bit grounded, though. [laughter] Keep going.
0:41:06.3 TK: Yeah, it’s mind exploding sometimes to see what’s happening. Yeah, and yeah, just that… And the other thing too, it’s an interesting thing, and not to get political about anything, but we live in highly politicized times, that these issues, these issues that are pertaining to us as a collective human body, or a group of humanity, it’s like it’s, yeah. These are wedges that drive us further apart, and so I think psychedelics, understanding the whatever, our connectiveness, our oneness, our shared humanity, our shared difficulty and our shared beauty, these are all really necessary, or essential things right now, where all of these sort of, like are recently more realized differences between us it’s like, yeah, whatever, on paper they exist, but if you… If we all look at it through the lens of how we feel when we’re on psychedelics, we realize we’re not so disparate.
0:42:12.3 PA: Yeah. To use a union term, it’s a lot about eating your own shadow. So in other words, there tends to be a lot of projection and transference, both individually and collectively, of things that are in our shadows, things that we don’t love about ourselves, we don’t acknowledge, we’re not aware of, and we tend to project that outwards into sometimes suffering that isn’t true, or sometimes emotions that don’t hold up to facts, or we definitely, and I think that, that’s a huge component of psychedelic healing is the… Even when we were talking about earlier, like the empathy of suffering. That’s why we have that [unclear speech], because to suffer is to be human, and to move through that and feel into it creates depth and resonance and something firm. And we have a very light and airy superficial world that we live in, which is where a lot of the suffering comes in, ’cause people don’t feel helped by anything substantial.
0:43:14.4 TK: Yeah, totally.
0:43:14.4 PA: So a few brass tacks before we wrap up for Q&A, what’s the…
0:43:21.2 TK: [unclear speech].
0:43:22.7 PA: What’s the roll-out plan for Entheon over the next six to 12 months in terms of how are you raising, or not how are you raising, but what are you building, what’s the next focus? Is it clinical trials? Are you building out the team for X, Y and Z? What’s going on over at Entheon?
0:43:38.7 TK: Yeah, totally. So we’ve done sufficient financing to carry out the next two years of operation, so we just did a financing, a public… Sorry, a private placement. We’re going to be merging, or amalgamating with another company as a publicly traded vehicle, and we’re gonna be listing in September, October of this year. And our merged finances are able to carry out all of the essential developmental things that we need to do. We’ve already secured our… We’re in process of the final processes of securing our GMP drug supply, which is pretty phenomenal and super necessary in order for us to take this into humans.
0:44:23.2 TK: Then in spring, summer of next year, we’re gonna be working with a Dutch contract research organization, super well-versed in every drug class. They’ve taken a multitude of drugs, or helped facilitate those foundational building components of taking drugs to full course of approval through the FDA and EMA. So yeah, we’re gonna be in humans in spring, summer of next year, understanding safety and efficacy. We all know the DMT’s pretty well tolerated, but there are certain, yeah, certain considerations that need further investigation and then yeah, we’re ultimately working on our dose finding mission in the spring, summer of next year, determining what the therapeutic dose range is.
0:45:04.9 TK: And in the meantime, also developing out and bolstering the adjunct therapeutics and optimizing them to ensure that yeah, all of the therapy that precede the psychedelic event is facilitated in the most meaningful way directly targeted at the specific, the suite of emotional and psychological, not issues, but realities that patients face and yeah, taking it through the clinical trials process and ultimately getting to a place where we have a approved DMT-based drug product that we’ll ultimately hope to have into clinics. We’re seeing the infrastructure build up around us as we speak about a multitude of like Numinus, Field Trip and these other companies that are looking to get into the therapeutic psychedelic space, but we’re also seeing another sort of…
0:45:53.6 TK: Another part of that industry develop where people, psychiatrists and therapists that have an interest in psychedelics, they have means to train themselves in that stuff too, so that part of the sector is developing and we’re hoping to supply them with the drug technology as well as the drug materials to administer, yeah, what we think is a pretty phenomenal evolution of psychedelic drugs, yeah.
0:46:22.7 PA: Beautiful. Yeah, education will be even more so as more of these substances become clinically approved. It’ll be even more important than it is now to train therapists and psychiatrists.
0:46:34.3 TK: Absolutely, yeah. No, we don’t envision this ever being a thing where it’s just like, “Oh yeah, hey, you’ve got a problem. Here’s this thing, strap yourself in. Good luck.” It’s like, I did that six years ago, and I didn’t explode or anything, and it was beneficial. But yeah, of the probably elapsed time, like 72 hours that I spent in the space, it was, I can probably condense that down into far less than that and have a therapeutically useful experience, but I mean, it was cool. I did some sightseeing while I was there.
0:47:06.7 PA: It’s a beautiful spot, yeah.
0:47:08.0 TK: It’s a great space.
0:47:09.1 TK: Yeah, it is. Okay, so a question, I could talk forever. And we could talk forever, I feel like. So we could just keep going, but I do wanna get some Q&A in, ’cause I’m sure… James is a good first one. So James, you said you’d love to ask a question about tech supporting integration. James, do you wanna write that question for us? There’s a Q, guys, you go to the Q&A section, you can pop in a question there, and then it comes up. I can click it and get it off. So we’re open to questions. Just gonna wait, I’m sure they’ll come. Yeah, I was gonna ask this and then forgot. Thank you, Pablo. So quick question on therapeutic dosage. Do you reference Strassman‘s DMT trials at all, or maybe how have those trials informed what you’re looking at research-wise?
0:48:03.8 TK: Yeah, that certainly exists, and we under… Like the sort of dose ranging there was good for understanding what these sort of like upper limits of things were, so it was really great. It’s awesome to have that sort of foundational understanding that yeah, safety and doses that far exceed what we’re proposing to do, but we’re coming up with a, I guess, a different rate of onset and keeping them in different sort of like what we deem a peak dose. But no certainly, we stand on the shoulders of giants, our sort of psychedelic forebears, not just people like Strassman, but yeah it’d be… It would be insincere saying that we didn’t look at that stuff, right, that’s like, yeah, of course. And not just Strassman’s work, but the work of the ayahuasqueros and people of the Amazon basin. Like, yeah, our understanding about tolerabilities or in duration and peak experience, like this is all informed by people that have come before us, right?
0:49:11.9 TK: You had a question about bringing…
0:49:13.1 PA: [unclear speech] are important, I think… I’ll get into a couple of more questions, ’cause I have a couple of good ones, and I’m sure there’ll be a few more that pop up. Is the focus exclusively on DMT or will you expand to other substances, like sort of the [unclear speech]?
0:49:37.4 TK: Yeah, for now, it is DMT. We do have some interest in other molecules, but not for just interest’s sake. We do have a pretty tight focus on the treatment of addiction issues right now. I think we understand that 5 MEO is a pretty interesting candidate for treating addiction, so that is an area we’re interested in. Ultimately, I don’t… Yeah, that’s… So we have made some investment into that potential pipeline, but we understand that 5 MEO has a far less robust background human use history, whereas Strassman’s work have indicated that there is a safety in humans. 5 MEO is a far less explored thing, so the actual development timeline with regard to that will be longer. We’ll have to do a lot of sort of bespoke, early preclinical stuff will have to be done more robustly, but that’s certainly something we’re super interested in.
0:50:41.8 TK: But yeah, for now, the realities are that I think at the stage of things we’re at right now, a lot of this has to be quite tightly hyperfocused on the very arduous and sometimes, yeah, the very sort of cost, time and attention intensive process of getting a drug approved. So we don’t wanna pull ourselves into too many different spaces right now, because ultimately it is… It is a huge undertaking, right?
0:51:13.6 PA: Have you seen the work of David Luke and telepathy with DMT, some of the research that he’s published there? Have you read through it yet?
0:51:21.2 TK: No, I’m sure my Chief Science Officer has, but if…
0:51:24.9 PA: Who’s your Chief Science Officer?
0:51:26.1 TK: It’s Andrew Hegle, who was recently brought in too. So he’s out from UBC as a Professor of Pharmacology of UBC.
0:51:35.3 PA: Fantastic. I interviewed David. We just published a podcast with him a little bit ago and talked about that, so I could even send that podcast over to you. It’s fascinating. His main focus of study is always has been on… What’s the word? Just like psy phenomena, essentially.
0:51:54.7 TK: Like sci-fi?
0:51:57.0 PA: No, P-S-Y.
0:51:58.8 TK: Okay.
0:52:00.8 PA: So like… Some fascinating stuff, like shamans who can change the weather, and you know, like that sort of like… And what role does DMT play in some of these sixth sense skills that are anecdotally reported, but not necessarily confirmed by clinical scientific methods.
0:52:20.4 TK: Sure, yeah, totally. I mean, wasn’t the CIA interested in these psychedelics so that they can go into the psy space and have real world outcomes?
0:52:33.3 PA: LSD… It was like the MK-Ultra program. And I think that there is a certain sort of like magic that comes from psychedelic use. You create the ritual, you have the ceremony, you create an intention, and it does feel like being able to work with psychedelics in a very skillful way does help with… I’m not gonna go so far as to say extra-sensory perception necessarily, although it can do that I think in some cases, depending on the individual. And that’s also… That’s a broken part of our medical model, is we tend to stigmatize schizophrenics, whereas they just don’t have the appropriate container through which to manifest. That’s why schizophrenics should do psychedelics, ’cause schizophrenics already see through the veil, you’re just going to fucking overload their circuit board if you just throw more energy there. So anyway, I like that shit.
0:53:34.4 TK: Okay.
0:53:35.3 PA: Any last questions, I think do we have a couple more coming? Okay, James asked… Oh, this is a good… I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, James. So the question from James is, what’s the future of precision medicine? And what devices exist so that we don’t necessarily need to go into a doctor’s office to see all these things when we could have a take home thing, we pick up a DMT, fucking inject it. Get some needles, like we would…
0:54:10.3 TK: Like a [unclear speech] or something?
0:54:13.3 PA: Yes, we’ll figure it out, we can figure it out and then… So what could we do to at home? I have some ideas…
0:54:19.1 TK: Yeah, I’m not gonna go so far as to say that we’re gonna be developing that, ’cause like I think that the day may come. If telemedicine comes online in a way that’s meaningful, robust, etcetera, and there are ways to safeguard against misuse of a really powerful psychoactive pump, then… Cool, yeah. And if the regulatory environment is, from our perspective, what people do… I know someone who I just talked to a minute ago who developed his own pretty nifty DMT vape pen, so that’s a cool take home medicine thing if you’re so inclined. But yeah, in terms of what we’re doing, if telemedicine comes along and there are ways to safeguard in ways that the experience can be monitored or insured to be safe, then… Yeah, I guess it’s like, yeah, how does… If the medical system evolves to be that a person could self-administer, then awesome, yeah… But I don’t think we’re there just yet.
0:55:25.8 PA: And I think more the question… So we’re not there yet, and maybe what exists… I guess my response would be, you can have things like the oura ring, I was talking with people before, you can have… You can get home scans for your brain, you could probably set up blood panels with a functional medicine doctor, so there are various ways where you could integrate it, but I don’t think there are any… As far as I know, there’s not a one size… It’d be cool if I could go on… Do you know Uncrate?
0:56:00.3 TK: No.
0:56:00.6 PA: It’ll change your life, I’ll send you a link.
0:56:03.8 TK: Does it mean buying a lot of stuff there?
0:56:07.3 PA: No, but it’d be cool to have a package where it just had all these things and it was easy to send in to a doctor and you could just do it at home. I feel like that’s the future of where we’re headed and some of that’s reasonable now, but…
0:56:20.8 TK: Yeah, I want this to be encapsulated in a news release, but there’s certainly some interest in some ideas with regard to facial recognition. I don’t wanna give it away. There’s, no, but there are ways, and it may not be specific to the psychedelic experience, but there are certain things with regard to mental health that are biometric in nature that can be tracked and parsed into an understanding of, yeah, the psychiatric state, right? And so you were hitting it for James, I think you finally got to answering the question.
0:57:02.4 TK: In terms of how to real-time monitor the psychedelic experience, there are some things that we’re working with with regard to brain imaging, and so an EG that may be possible to give an understanding of what’s going on there so, yeah. And I think you touched on some of the technologies that exist, there are some other more commercially available technologies, but in terms of the capturing the complexity of that and properly correlating it with the dosage and blah, blah, blah… Yeah, I think that’s something that’s the next evolution of things that may come to pass, but yeah, for now we’re just focusing on making sure that the FDA understands that, yes, this drug when administered is safe and it has a expected effect, right.
0:57:58.0 TK: But yeah, the evolution is yeah, we’re in an interesting evolutionary period with some of these things like as we’re seeing, biometric tracking, all of these different things, brain readings or brain activity, alpha beta zeta wave type readings, yeah, how that’s encapsulated is… I think there could be a lot of applications, right, to get a better understanding about how mental health functions, so… Yeah, I think there’s certainly a future application in psychedelics.
0:58:29.1 PA: Yeah, I feel like it wouldn’t even be that hard, there’s enough, like Peter Attia and Rhonda Patrick, and there’s so much now on blood panels and precision medicine, even in a decriminalized market like Oakland, and especially with all this defund the police movement, one of the first things to go is definitely gonna be prosecuting anything psychedelic-related, it’s just a total waste of money. So that will also be interesting, like, “Okay, if this is more and more accessible, I don’t need to go into a clinic to get this DMT, I can grow my own mushrooms at home and do them with friends,” or whatever.
0:59:05.1 PA: I think then it’s like, how do we democratize these devices, essentially, so that anyone could have access to it and probably what it starts with, it’s like a $1500 package, ’cause you’ll need to do blood tests, the [unclear speech] costs X, there’s a few other things that are quite expensive, but over time, there will be more and more investment in that because our healthcare system is breaking and it’s still very industrial. Too much shit in it. Okay, so I gotta go, I have a call here at the top of the hour, so I gotta run, but… This was a fantastic conversation.
0:59:45.3 TK: Yeah.
0:59:45.9 PA: Thank you so much for taking the time. We will publish this, I’m gonna publish this one on Sporestore’s podcast as well.
0:59:51.1 TK: Awesome. Yeah, and if anyone was expecting a more business-focused thing, sorry it got weird.
0:59:56.3 PA: Oh, no, poetry, it’s great. I think to talk… Business is very dry, I think, and this is my struggle with people who have done psychedelics, it feels like… I don’t know, I’m just like, I’ll do business, whatever. But for me personally, it’s not about business, it’s about the art, it’s about the creation.
1:00:16.7 TK: And I, no, I, I’ve, this was a welcome surprise, so thank you, man.
1:00:22.8 PA: Absolutely. We’ll connect again at some point, I have a few links to send you and follow up over email, and then the next time I’m in Vancouver I’ll probably be there. Well, if borders open, who knows at this point, maybe I’m just stuck in the United States actually…
1:00:36.7 TK: Yeah.
1:00:37.4 PA: Terrible. But we’ll… I’m sure we’ll [unclear speech].
1:00:42.2 TK: Soldier on. Alright, thanks, Paul. Thanks very much.
1:00:46.3 PA: Thanks, everyone.
Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Timothy Ko.