Healthy living

Stay-sober pill a step closer

Stay-sober pill a step closer Limits effects of alcohol

A stay-sober pill may be a step closer after scientists discovered a new way alcohol affects the brain.

Australian scientists found that a type of immune response in the brain is linked to how we respond to alcohol, and it's this response that's behind the 'behavioural changes' associated with drinking too much, such as stumbling and slurred speech.

The research paves the way for a 'stay-sober' pill that will put an end to alcohol-induced embarrassing incidents by limiting the effects of alcohol.

In the study, scientists from the University of Adelaide treated mice with a version of the drug naloxone, before injecting them with alcohol, while others were given alcohol alone.

The drug blocks the actions of toll-like receptors on glial cells, a cell type involved in the brain's immune response.

Compared with the 'tipsy' mice, those given the naloxone had better motor skills in walking and balancing tests, and recovered more quickly from the alcohol's effects.

The researchers also repeated the experiment, but this time using mice that were genetically altered to lack functioning toll-like receptors, with similar results.

"The results showed that blocking this part of the immune system, either with the drug or genetically, reduced the effects of alcohol," said Dr Mark Hutchinson, one of the study authors.

He said he believed a similar treatment could work in humans.

"Medications targeting this specific receptor - toll-like receptor 4 - may prove beneficial in treating alcohol dependence and acute overdoses," he said.

This article was published on Thu 6 October 2011

Image © Yurok Aleksandrovich -

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