November 13, 2013
The Joys Of Booze With None Of The Side Effects?
[ Watch the Video: Pill May One Day Mimic Effects Of Booze ]
A neuroscientist from the UK’s Imperial College London has told the British media he has developed a drug capable of mimicking the effects of alcohol – but the drug’s effects can quickly be reversed by taking an antidote.
David Nutt said the drug, which could be used to make a range of traditional cocktails, has the potential to revolutionize the alcohol industry and prevent many of the health problems associated with alcohol abuse.
“I’ve done the prototype experiments myself,” he told the BBC in a recent radio interview. “I’ve been inebriated and then it’s been reversed by the antagonist.
“That’s what really gave us the idea,” Nutt added. “There’s no question that you can produce a whole range of effects like alcohol by manipulating the brain.”
The college professor said alcohol kills 1.5 million people a year and 10 percent of drinkers end up becoming addicts. He added memory loss and other side effects of drinking could be avoided by using his new drug.
During his appearance on BBC radio, Nutt said he needs the help of investors to continue his research – adding that the alcohol industry has shown no interest in funding his endeavor. While some of his previous research has resulted in compounds that mimic the effect of alcohol, Nutt said he’s currently working on distilling his prior efforts into something more refined.
“What we want to do is – get rid of any of the unwanted effects of inebriation, like memory impairment. We just want to keep with the pleasure and the sense of dis-inhibition,” Nutt said. “So, I think we can do better than what we have done, and I’ve identified three or four candidate molecules. And, I actually pointed out in your introduction – I just need some investors now to take it forward.”
Nutt also called for the UK government to provide an “explicit recommendation” in support of the drug, which he said would encourage investment.
Emily Robinson, an executive with the UK charity Alcohol Concern, questioned whether the British government should support the professor’s research.
“We would urge caution on this,” she told The Telegraph. “We agree that alcohol is a serious burden to the country. But we would urge the Government to invest in policies that we know work, such as minimum unit pricing and advertising restrictions.
“We should focus on what is going wrong in our drinking culture rather than swapping potentially one addictive substance for another,” she added.
Claire Fox, the director of the policy organization Institute of Ideas, condemned the BBC’s decision to give the professor such a wide audience. “It was outrageous,” she told The Telegraph. “Nobody else would get away with it would they? If someone else went on and just said: 'I am here to get investment in my company’ the BBC wouldn’t let that [happen].”
A BBC spokesperson responded by saying Nutt “was questioned about the potential complications involved and it was made clear to listeners that his research was at the early stages because he had not yet obtained funding for the project.”