Teenagers and young adults who engage in binge drinking are often unaware just how harmful it can be, especially for the brain. A team of scientists have developed a drug that reduces the harmful side-effects of binge drinking, Science Daily reports. The drug may also have the potential for new ways to treat Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
The drug, ethane-beta-sultam, was developed and tested by a team of European scientists, at universities in Louvain in Belgium, Florence in Italy and Huddersfield and London in the UK, including the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Mike Page and Dr Karl Hemming. When ethane-beta-sultam is administered to rats on a ‘binge drinking’ regime, researchers found that it reduces the brain cell loss and inflammation that normally results from binge drinking, leading to symptoms such as decreased memory. Binge drinking can cause long-term damage to brains that are still in the process of development, like teenage brains.
“One of things that alcohol does is to destroy some of the brain cells which are important for navigation and orientation,” said Professor Page. “But a combination of alcohol and our compound could overcome this damage.”
Professor Page explained that the brain protects itself using ‘glial cells,’ which are increased when exposed to alcohol in a binge-drinking regime. “But a combination of our ethane-beta-sultam given at the same time as the alcohol decreased these levels of glial cells.” Down the road, Page hopes that compounds like ethane-beta-sultam could help with the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia which also result from a loss of brain activity.
Page points out that many issues surround the prospect of a drug that hinders binge drinking’s effects on the brain. “But if you accept that alcohol abuse is going to continue, then it might be sensible for society to try and treat it in some way,” says Professor Page.
The findings were published in the Journal of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.