The art class you wish you’d
taken. The history lecture
you still think about. The
poem that stole your heart.
And more. All in one journal
from UNC Press.
Read, research, & subscribe:
Detail from Southern Cultures Winter Issue 2016
Cover: Hummingbirds, ca. 1955, Walter Inglish
Anderson, watercolor on paper; 8. 5 x 11 inches, courtesy
of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Although other labs have reported that LSD
“washes” out of the brain’s fluid within hours, such
experiments could not determine what was happening
on or inside brain cells. Roth’s lab has shown for the
first time that LSD is not washed out of the serotonin
receptors in the membrane of brain cells in a few hours.
Solving the structure of LSD could help drug
developers design better psychiatric drugs with
fewer side effects. Also, although LSD is illegal, it
remains a popular recreational drug and not just for
its most potent effects. Some people — most notably
technology developers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere
— report “microdosing” LSD to boost creativity,
relieve stress and help them solve problems while
avoiding its hallucinogenic effects.
Prior to becoming a pharmacology professor and
researcher, Roth was a psychiatrist specializing in
schizophrenia. Patients occasionally would report that
their first schizophrenic break occurred while on LSD.
“They were never the same again,” Roth said.
“Although this is rare, it has been reported. People also
report flashbacks, and LSD is an extremely potent drug.
So for those reasons, along with its potential as part of
therapeutic treatment, LSD is scientifically interesting.”
He added: “We do not advocate using LSD; it is
potentially very dangerous. But it could have potential
medicinal uses, some of which were reported in the
medical literature decades ago. Now that we’ve solved
the structure of LSD bound to a receptor, we are
learning what makes it so potent.”
Wacker said: “I think it’s important for the
pharmaceutical industry to understand that if you
modify just one tiny aspect of any compound, you
might affect the way it sits in the receptor. And as a
result, you might affect how the compound works.”
One in 10 people in the U.S. — tens of millions
of people — have reported using LSD at least once in
‘We do not
it is potentially
But it could
... Now that
Dr. Bryan L. Roth
the structure of
to a receptor,
we are learning
it so potent.’
Dr. Bryan L. Roth believes solving the structure of LSD
could be a step toward better psychiatric drugs.