Synthehol Sought By Psychopharmacologists
Synthehol is a science-fictional substitute for alcohol that appears on the Star Trek:The Next Generation television series. It allows drinkers to experience all of the enjoyable, intoxicating effects of alcohol without unpleasant side-effects like hang-overs.
(Crusher and Guinan at the ST:TNG bar)
Professor David Nutt, a psychopharmacologist at the University of Bristol in the UK, believes that there is no scientific reason why it cannot be created now.
Alcohol works in the brain mainly by latching onto signalling molecules called GABA-A receptors. There are dozens of subtypes of these; not all of them are associated with specific effects of alcohol. For example, memory loss may occur in conjuction with drinking because alcohol binds to alpha-5, a GABA-A receptor subtype in the hippocampus.
Professor Nutt suggests that if molecules that bind poorly to the bad subtypes like alpha-5 could be developed, it would be possible to retain the pleasant effects of alcohol without the bad side-effects.
Some "partial agonists" of GABA-A receptors already exist; bretazenil and pagoclone were developed as anti-anxiety drugs. These drug molecules are instantly reversible by the flumazenil, used as an antidote to overdoses of tranquillisers.
Another element of the "synthehol" alcohol substitute would be an NMDA antagonist such as dizoclipine, originally developed as a drug for stroke. Alcohol inhibits NMDA receptors, which are part of a general excitatory signalling circuit.
Perhaps most interesting is the idea that problems like cirrhosis of the liver could be eliminated by altering the composition of alcoholic beverages. Professor Nutt will be publishing this idea in the Journal of Psychopharmacology next month.
Science-fictional-beverage enthusiasts should take a look at Programmable Soda, an amazing prediction by UK sf writer Jeff Noon. Roboticists with an interest in alcohol should read Methanol-Powered Robot Muscles - Bend It Like Bender.
For the science part, read All the pleasures of alcohol, with no downsides; for the sf part, read more about synthehol. Thanks to Greg for providing the story tip and the sf reference.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/11/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Will The FDA Approve This Antiaging Drug?
'So what we're looking for now is... an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug.' - James Blish, 1951.
EVE Artificial Womb For Lambs (For Now)
'In the crimson darkness, stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Bees Royal Jelly Helps Wounds Heal Faster
'An alien drug... used by an insect race.' - Clifford Simak, 1961.
3D Printed Bionic Chinese Skin
Designer skin for everyone!
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Biggest HiSeas 'Mars Mission' Problem? No Internet
I think sf writers have this covered!
Clever Electric Truck Generates More Power Than It Uses
Better than a fictional electrotruck!
Eden-ISS, Greenhouse In Antarctica
'With this kind of light we could get the gardens going again."
Make Space Tools On The Spot (Like Moties)
'A moment ago it was squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon...'
Will Robots Be Moral If We Raise Them Like Our Children?
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'
Foldable Galaxy Phones, I Swear They're Coming (Maybe)
How hard can it be?
Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...'
Brain Connected To Internet - ‘Brainternet'
Artificial Spider Silk
You can also use it to make a roof - on an asteroid.
MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!
'My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid...'
Seiko Astron Always Knows Your Time Zone
'Harrington glanced at his wrist watch - a bulky affair - and whistled.'
Robot Buddhist Priest Chants, Drums
'He crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'
Koniku Kore, Mouse Brain-Based Chip, Detects Explosives
'As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever.'
CNH Industrial Autonomous Tractor Concept Video
'...the tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'
The Neuroon Open Sleep Tracker For Lucid Dreaming
'Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer on the bedside shelf.'
Siri Now Smoother, Perkier (Thanks, Deep Learning!)
'Good morning, Dr. Chandra. This is Hal.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories