It can’t take back those drunken phone calls or erase your friends’ memory of what you might have said, but a chemical compound could preserve your brain cells during a night out.
Binge-drinking, defined by the National Institutes of Health as drinking five or more drinks at a time for men and four or more for women, is well known to be potentially damaging.
“One of things that alcohol does is to destroy some of the brain cells which are important for navigation and orientation,” says University of Huddersfield professor Mike Page. “But a combination of alcohol and our compound could overcome this damage.”
The key ingredient is ethane-beta-sultam, which reduced the brain function impairment caused by alcohol when it was tested on rats that were fed a binge-drinking regimen.
During a binge-drinking episode, the brain protects itself by producing glial cells, says Page.
“But a combination of our ethane-beta-sultam given at the same time as the alcohol decreased these levels of glial cells,” he explains.
It’s taken Page and his team 10 years to concoct the medicine, one of the biggest obstacles being the difficulty of drugs to penetrate the brain’s natural defense mechanism, called the blood-brain barrier.
This one enters the bloodstream before it activates, which Page says makes it more effective.
He says the development has opened doors that could lead to new options for treating Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases that are reluctant to respond to drugs to due the aforementioned difficulty of being able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
The study was published in the Journal of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence.