Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Review
. 2018 Feb;235(2):561-571.
doi: 10.1007/s00213-017-4779-2. Epub 2017 Nov 20.

Progress and Promise for the MDMA Drug Development Program

Affiliations
Review

Progress and Promise for the MDMA Drug Development Program

Allison A Feduccia et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). .

Abstract

Pharmacotherapy is often used to target symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but does not provide definitive treatment, and side effects of daily medication are often problematic. Trauma-focused psychotherapies are more likely than drug treatment to achieve PTSD remission, but have high dropout rates and ineffective for a large percentage of patients. Therefore, research into drugs that might increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy is a logical avenue of investigation. The most promising drug studied as a catalyst to psychotherapy for PTSD thus far is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as the recreational drug "Ecstasy." MDMA stimulates the release of hormones and neurochemicals that affect key brain areas for emotion and memory processing. A series of recently completed phase 2 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD show favorable safety outcomes and large effect sizes that warrant expansion into multi-site phase 3 trials, set to commence in 2018. The nonprofit sponsor of the MDMA drug development program, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), is supporting these trials to explore whether MDMA, administered on only a few occasions, can increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Brain imaging techniques and animal models of fear extinction are elucidating neural mechanisms underlying the robust effects of MDMA on psychological processing; however, much remains to be learned about the complexities of MDMA effects as well as the complexities of PTSD itself.

Keywords: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine; MDMA; PTSD; Psychoactive effects.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 6 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1999 Jul;290(1):136-45 - PubMed
    1. Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Dec 15;68(12):1134-40 - PubMed
    1. J Psychoactive Drugs. 1986 Oct-Dec;18(4):305-13 - PubMed
    1. Soc Neurosci. 2009;4(4):359-66 - PubMed
    1. Transl Psychiatry. 2015 Sep 15;5:e634 - PubMed

MeSH terms

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback