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Beer Science

Scientist Seeks Investment For "Alcohol Substitute" 328

Posted by samzenpus
from the bottoms-up dept.
First time accepted submitter MalachiK writes "A senior academic and former UK government drugs adviser reckons that pretty soon it'll be possible to enjoy the fun of being drunk without having to suffer the negative effects of alcohol. In a proposal reminiscent of Star Trek's synthehol, Professor David Nut has identified a number of molecules that he claims offer experiences that are subjectively indistinguishable from alcohol intoxication. Apparently a major advantage of using these more selectively psychoactive drugs is that the effects can be quickly reversed. It's not all good news though as Professor Nut seems to think that the drinks industry is using its financial and political clout to stop this sort of research being undertaken."
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Scientist Seeks Investment For "Alcohol Substitute"

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  • by neminem (561346) <neminem@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday November 11, 2013 @07:36PM (#45395763) Homepage

    The effects of alcohol are occasionally fun to experience, but what aren't fun are a. attempting to get drunk and failing because it takes a lot, b. attempting to get drunk, overshooting and being too drunk, and c. even after drinking exactly the right amount, getting a hangover because you had to drink a lot to get there. I totally applaud this research.

    That said, this is apparently also very old [livescience.com], so I'm not holding my breath ever seeing this in reality. (That is a link to basically the same synopsis of the same guy's research, from 2006.)

  • Nutt, not Nut (Score:5, Informative)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday November 11, 2013 @07:50PM (#45395889) Homepage Journal

    First of all, it's Professor David Nutt, not "Nut"

    Second of all, it's the same Professor who was a British government advisor, who was sacked [theguardian.com] for "criticising politicians for distorting research evidence and claiming alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than some illegal drugs, including LSD, ecstasy and cannabis."

    Seems like a scientist with integrity. Perhaps this is less the risible ramblings of a madnam, and more he's at the "...then they laugh at you" part of fighting the good fight.

    (Unless, of course, you think LSD and cannabis are more damaging than alcohol and tobacco, in which case feel free to poke fun.)

  • it's Nutt, you nut (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuperElectric (754754) on Monday November 11, 2013 @07:53PM (#45395917)
    Former member of the UK government's drugs advisory panel, until some pol fired him for pointing out (correctly) that the health risks of horseback riding outweigh those of doing ecstasy. He's the author of Drugs Without the Hot Air, a fantastic book. http://boingboing.net/2012/06/20/drugs-without-the-hot-air.html [boingboing.net]
  • Re:You had me at ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by NettiWelho (1147351) on Monday November 11, 2013 @08:06PM (#45396035)
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/oct/30/drugs-adviser-david-nutt-sacked [theguardian.com]

    Professor David Nutt, the government's chief drug adviser, has been sacked a day after claiming that ecstasy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol.

    His claims are factual but go against official-opinion-on-the-matter(tm)

  • Re:Nutt, not Nut (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @08:11PM (#45396085)

    Thank you, came here to make that point.

    Yes, Prof Nutt is a remarkable sane, evidence based, thinking person. That's why he got fired by the UK government, he looked at the evidence and told the truth. That didn't mesh.

    A large amount of the political pressure was from the then-hysteria over Ecstacy (MDMA), mostly led by the papers. One of his conclusions was that the sheer scale of usage, and the relatively few deaths (probably less than 10 high profile ones from memory) meant that it was statistically safer than many prescription drugs, and certainly safer than alcohol and nicotine, and that was without any controls on production and distribution whatsoever.

    I tried Ecstacy once. Really pointless drug in my opinion (I'm a beer and a joint man), but you can't argue with his logic on that one. Don't discount him, he's one of the most realistic thinkers when it comes to humans and their enjoyment of psychoactives. I'd put him on a par with Ford and the motor car, if any of the current leaders in the field change society's approach to the issue it'll be him.

  • Re:Not all good (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:15PM (#45396513)

    Physiological addiction in most cases can be beaten by a short stay in an inpatient rehab center. Success rates are very high. But the real danger and the real long term worry is the psychological element of the addiction. It's what makes addictions so hard to beat, the day in day out avoidance of the addictive chemical/behavior (even after what you consider the "real danger" period is past). Note that psychological addiction is very much related to genetics and background, so only a limited percentage of people will suffer from it. This also contributes to the insidiousness of it; someone with a non-addictive background will simplify the addiction down into "no physical withdrawal, no big deal" logic you are echoing.

  • Re:Not all good (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:57PM (#45396757)

    No, there are certain people (mostly Asian) that have a genetic mutation involving how Ethanol Metabolizes that causes their hangovers to come on quicker and stronger. It's been proven that these people have significantly lower rates of alcoholism. It's been proposed that this common genetic mutation among Asians is a contributing factor to eastern societies relatively low rate of alcohol consumption.

    Spoken like a man that has only studied East Asia in books and journal articles, having never been there. They drink like fish and are stone alcoholics, too. Not sure where you're getting your information, but it's not from reality. Lying to save face is also extraordinarily common. Just look at Fukushima!

  • by Any Web Loco (555458) on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:08PM (#45396827) Homepage
    Hi - my partner works in problem gambling and (according to her) there's reasonably strong evidence for a biological (read:chemical) component to gambling addiction. I think the wikipedia article even touches on it. Yep, it does.
  • Re:Less healthy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cmdr_tofu (826352) on Monday November 11, 2013 @11:03PM (#45397133) Homepage

    Yet alcohol is a risk factor for developing cancer of the throat, mouth, and basically the rest of the digestive tract. The anti-oxidants in wine are also readily available (without risk-factor alcohol) in the form of grape juice or grapes.

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/alcohol [cancer.gov]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_and_cancer [wikipedia.org] (3.6% of cancer cases and 3.5% of cancers deaths are attributed to alcohol)

    Research into a healthier alternative (maybe added to a high anti-oxidant blueberry juice) is certainly worthwhile.

  • Re:Already Exists (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hamsterdan (815291) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @12:25AM (#45397585)

    Alcohol is *NOT* on the lower spectrum regarding addictiveness.

    (you can die from alcohol withdrawal)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_withdrawal#Prevention_of_brain_damage [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rational_scale_to_assess_the_harm_of_drugs_(mean_physical_harm_and_mean_dependence).svg [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Already Exists (Score:5, Informative)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <(aussie_bob) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:00AM (#45397737) Journal

    Cannabis:

    In summary, enormous doses of Delta 9 THC, All THC and concentrated marihuana extract ingested by mouth were unable to produce death or organ pathology in large mammals but did produce fatalities in smaller rodents due to profound central nervous system depression.

    The non-fatal consumption of 3000 mg/kg A THC by the dog and monkey would be comparable to a 154-pound human eating approximately 46 pounds (21 kilograms) of 1%-marihuana or 10 pounds of 5% hashish at one time. In addition, 92 mg/kg THC intravenously produced no fatalities in monkeys. These doses would be comparable to a 154-pound human smoking at one time almost three pounds (1.28 kg) of 1%-marihuana or 250,000 times the usual smoked dose and over a million times the minimal effective dose assuming 50% destruction of the THC by smoking.

    Thus, evidence from animal studies and human case reports appears to indicate that the ratio of lethal dose to effective dose is quite large. This ratio is much more favorable than that of many other common psychoactive agents including alcohol and barbiturates (Phillips et al. 1971, Brill et al. 1970).

    http://www.druglibrary.org/SCHAFFER/LIBRARY/mj_overdose.htm [druglibrary.org]
    http://www.oregon.gov/pharmacy/Imports/Marijuana/StaffReview/ReschedulingCannabis-NOTES_3-10.pdf [oregon.gov]

  • Re:Not all good (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dahamma (304068) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @02:07AM (#45397995)

    Sorry, your post is factually incorrect. The common mutation to the pathway is with ALDH2 (aldehyde dehydrogenase), the *second* step of the process.

    What happens is ethanol is broken down into acetaldehyde by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), and then the aldehyde into acetic acid by ALDH2. When ALDH2 is not effective, aldehyde (a toxin) builds up in the bloodstream and causes flushing, nausea, headaches, etc. And it's been traced down to a single amino acid substitution in ALDH2 with partially dominant expression.

    One interesting anecdote I've seen from this is the use of certain drugs (an antihistamine, I think?) as off-label ALH inhibitors - basically to slow the pathway down and reduce buildup of acetaldehyde. In fact, an anesthesiologist friend was giving it to all of the Asian guys at the last bachelor party I attended :)

    And do the slightest research into it and you will see the OP was correct - one study showed something like 40-50% of Japanese had ALDH2 deficiency as a whole, but less than 5% of Japanese alcoholics had it. If you almost immediately got flushed and sick when you drank you'd obviously be more likely to avoid it in general...

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