David Nutt announces research on 'synthetic alcohol'

By Sven99 · Nov 10, 2009 · ·
  1. Sven99
    Why you could be drinking healthy
    alcohol in 3 years

    SNF10BOTTLE2-280_925326a.jpg Here's to the beers ... will they be replaced with David Nutt's risk-free booze?


    A SUBSTANCE said to give the feeling of booze without the health risks is being developed by controversial ex Government drugs tsar Professor David Nutt. The solution is added to liquid. It is claimed anyone using it will get the alcohol high without the hangover or deadly liver damage. There is even an antidote which would allow a user to DRIVE home after taking it. Here, the scientist - recently sacked as chairman of the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs after saying ecstasy is safer than alcohol - gives the reason for the innovation.

    WE have been poisoning ourselves for 2,000 years. Modern science can now provide a safer way for us to have fun.
    davidnuttembed_180x_925343a.jpg Extraordinary claims ... Professor David Nutt

    I am working on a prototype of a synthetic alcohol. We can make someone feel pleasantly inebriated then reverse it.

    We have a partial alternative tested on volunteers. With Government backing, the first ever synthetic alcohol could be available in three to five years.

    The potential for this is enormous. It could slash Britain's binge drinking epidemic, which currently costs the NHS £3billion a year, and reduce the number of deaths from alcohol poisoning.

    At the moment it is very hard to treat alcohol poisoning - medics simply have to wait for booze to clear the system.

    With the new approach, they would have an antidote available immediately.

    Law enforcement could even have the antidote to use on revellers who have used the solution. We could get rid of liver cirrhosis, stomach ulcers, cardiac problems and a huge number of the toxic effects.

    We have worked out how alcohol affects the brain and can target these areas. We gave one volunteer a substance similar to Valium, which is a sedative.

    The feeling was similar to being drunk. We then reversed this.
    We have the knowledge to make a far superior synthetic alcohol. But this project is hard to progress.

    Firstly, there is little external interest, perhaps because people think this idea is too radical.

    Secondly, selling the substance would be difficult. It would be classified as a drug and would fall foul of drug laws.

    This is why we need Government support. Alcohol manufacturers may also protest.

    At the moment we don't have a sensible approach to alcohol - it's time for a discussion about safe alternatives.

    You are never going to stop people enjoying a drink. But if they are going to drink, let them do it without the terrible risks of alcohol.

    I believe in 25 years we could be drinking high-quality, safe alcohol.
    Hopefully in the future people will raise a toast over my grave with a glass of synthetic booze.

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  1. Synchronium
  2. Phenoxide
    I'm actually really starting to dislike Nutt. He leaves his advisory role in a pretty undignified manner and then follows it up with as much media coverage as possible, most of it not even related to his sacking. The number of pointless interviews he's given in the past couple of weeks is startling. This is no longer about the role of scientific advisors in science.. it reeks of him milking temporary public interest to raise his profile.

    So now he's promoting his developmental (and no doubt heavily patented) alcohol substitute? The claim that this chemical feels 'similar' to alcohol but without toxicity is in itself is pretty dubious. Sounds to me as though his motivation doesn't lie in harm reduction at all, but more in trying to maneuver the government into a position where they're likely to give him a chance to get a foothold in the hugely lucrative alcohol market.
  3. radiometer
    So let me get this straight:

    He wants to replace alcohol with benzodiazepines? OK....
  4. SullyGuy
    No such thing as a free lunch methinks, I wonder what terrible pitfalls will arise out of this one :laugh:
  5. Tony Williams
    SWIM will still to GHB/GBL, he knows where he is then. :)
  6. Alfa
    So first he bans research chemicals, then he develops them???

    Whats the date of this article?
  7. podge
    Booze that doesnt destroy the liver and doesnt give hangovers ? Is swim the only person excited about this ? Obviously il remain skeptical until its an actual reality but this would be an AMAZING breakthrough.
  8. BloodyMuffin
    Swim too is excited! it will never replace the taste of a good drink, but inebriation without the consequences is a damn good thing. and an antidote?! actually on second thought, antidote sounds a little bit malevolent... Swim has gone and scared himself...
  9. chillinwill
  10. Doublefields

    Sadly this was my first thought. I hugely respect a lot of what he's done but i noticed the other day that a lot of his recent articles were specifically comparing the dangers of alcohol to other drugs.
    However, this is in the Sun so i'll hold judgment until i see it somewhere more reputable.
  11. Sven99
    Ditto. For non-uk swimmers, the Sun isn't at all reliable as a source of information. A google search turns up some old media coverage from 3 years ago on basically the same story, and it wouldn't surprise me if they made a point of asking him a few questions about it and turned them into this article.
  12. Alfa
    The Sun will write anything.
  13. corvardus
    The Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch. That really is all to be said about the quality of its News output.

    If one is familiar with the broadcasting from Fox News in the United States, lets just say that The Sun is the tabloid version cut from the same cloth.
  14. PlaneCrash
    swim will wait to hear the science behind this research. not scientific testimony... just the science.
  15. radiometer
    From the article, it sounds like they simply gave some people benzodiazepines and then used an antagonist to reverse the effects.
  16. Piglet
    I have read about these drugs before, in fact I placed a synthetic route to Pagoclone on this site.The original compound was a 1,4 benzodiazipine with the 7-chloro replaced with a 7 ethylene group.
    Don't read too much into the description 'benzo', thats a chemical structure, not a definition of it's effects.
    Nutt does good work and was right to disagree over the government reclassifying cannabis as B and keeping MDMA in A.The government said it was a 'policy decision' but if you read the MoDA, the classification is SUPPOSED to be based on how dangerous it is.
  17. radiometer
    Well, obviously if they are looking to replace alcohol, then they will need to pursue drugs which target GABA. Which is what benzodiazepines do. Users often report a feeling "similar to being drunk," as the article says.

    I think that Nutt is getting silly with this one. A drug with the same effects as alcohol but no negative side effects, addiction issues, etc? The phrase "pie in the sky" comes to mind.

    *** edit

    Something seems to be screwy with the new post I've been trying to make, so I'll just edit:

    I think this is the drug he's proposing:


    and this is the purported "antidote":


    The GABA antagonist they are proposing has a much shorter half-life than the benzodizepines they are studying, so that seems like it would be quite a serious issue that would need to be considered if trying to put this idea into practice. I wonder how possible it would be to create a benzodiazepine with effects that could "replace" alcohol, but would not be very dangerous to mix with alcohol. Not very likely IMO, so that's a serious liability issue there unless they plan on banning alcohol. Also, the fact that a GABA antagonist could possibly precipitate withdrawal symptoms. And lastly, the fact that humans have a very long and rich history of use of ethanol. It has very particular effects which many users find distinctly lacking in drugs with "similar" effects, such as GHB or diazepam. I think that this idea will ultimately not be accepted by the government, nor by users.

  18. Piglet
    ^Alcohol binds to a very specific GABA sub-receptor, not the ones sedative/hypnotic benzodiazepines bind to. He never said it had NO addiction potential, just much less than ethanol. It's a partial agonist so after so much, it doesn't get stronger and of course antagonists exists.
  19. Piano_man
    Prof.Nutt is right. Alcohol does need to be replaced with a less toxic drug, badly. Without going into the figures alcohol causes a lot of damage to public health, purely from a physical point of view.

    Of course addiction is going to be an issue, as it always will be. But this drug is not worse than alcohol, so why not let it replace alcohol?
    (Obviously some people will still want to drink, but why not at least give people the option?)

    One thing I'd be worried about is that because this drug doesn't cause the same loss of coordination (I'd really need to know exactly what that means), it might be more addictive. I.e the inebriated feeling reminds your subconcious that you are on a drug, which stops you from confusing it with a natural high, which reduces addiction potential. As I said before, I'd really need to know more about this drug to make such a judgement though.
  20. Nnizzle
    Can someone explain this better? Calling it a "synthetic alcohol" is kind of misleading correct? How chemically similar is it to ethanol? I don't see an OH group in the structure or an ethanol background but I can't say I know much about organic chemistry. Sounds like basically he's just proposing some sort of benzodiazepine-ish drug which merely produces effects similar to alcohol but with a dose-response curve which has some sort of cap to avoid overdose ie with ethanol? Also like radiometer said, everything my dog has read tells him that ligands for GABA receptors can have serious consequences concerning withdrawal, tolerance and addiction.
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