Hangover 'cure' for binge-drinkers
Scientists have developed the ultimate hangover cure - a drug that reduces the harmful effects of binge-drinking on the brain.
The same drug may open the door to new treatments for Alzheimer's and other brain diseases, researchers believe.
Tested on rats experiencing the equivalent of a human binge-drinking bender, it curbed brain cell loss and inflammation and improved their memory.
Evidence suggests that binge-drinking may have long-term effects on memory, decision-making and the ability to pay attention. Teenagers are especially at risk because their young brains are still developing.
The new drug, named ethane-beta-sultam, was developed over 10 years by British, Belgian and Italian scientists.
Binge-drinking is defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks one after the other over a four to six-hour period.
Rats taking part in the study were given doses of alcohol designed to simulate binge-drinking in a human. Their memory was tested by seeing how well they could find a hidden platform in a water maze.
Animals treated with ethane-beta-sultam were able to navigate the maze as well as those not fed alcohol.
Professor Mike Page, from the University of Huddersfield, said: "One of things that alcohol does is to destroy some of the brain cells which are important for navigation and orientation. But a combination of alcohol and our compound could overcome this damage."
Future work may turn up a compound that performs even better than ethane-beta-sultam, he said.
In the longer term, such compounds may help in the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer's that also involve inflammation and the loss of brain cells.
Prof Page acknowledged that protecting against the harmful effects of binge-drinking on the brain might be controversial, but added: "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."
The research is published in the Journal Of Alcoholism And Drug Dependence.