A Madison nonprofit started by the head of Promega Corp. is resuming a study of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” to treat depression at UW-Madison and six other sites after the COVID-19 pandemic halted the research.

The Usona Institute, co-founded in 2014 by Bill Linton, CEO of Fitchburg-based Promega, also plans to launch a larger study of the drug to treat major depression next year, said Tura Patterson, Usona’s senior director of strategic partnerships.

The institute, which is also supporting research to use psilocybin for anxiety, addiction, anorexia and cluster headaches, hopes to seek federal approval for treatment of depression by 2025, Patterson said.

For-profit startups and pharmaceutical companies are showing interest in developing psychedelic drugs for mental disorders, but Patterson said Usona plans to remain a nonprofit supported by donations and foundations.

“Part of our goal is to make this accessible and available at an affordable price to the people who need it most,” she said during a Wisconsin Technology Council webinar Tuesday. “For that to happen, I think you need to be a nonprofit.”

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