Not exactly all the pleasures of beer

April 17th, 2006 | Posted by Real Beer

The headline from the New Scientist reads: “All the pleasures of alcohol, with no downsides.”

The discussion is about a “cocktail of drugs that mimics the pleasurable effects of alcohol without the downsides.” Pay close attention.

Alcohol exerts its effects on the brain mainly by latching onto signalling molecules called GABA-A receptors. There are dozens of subtypes of these, some of which are associated with specific effects of alcohol. Memory loss, for example, seems to occur because alcohol binds to a subtype in the hippocampus called alpha-5. [David] Nutt says it would be possible to design molecules that bind strongly to the good subtypes but more weakly to the bad ones.

In theory, a new drug could “deliver alcohol’s pleasurable effects, notably relaxation and sociability, without the aggression, nausea, loss of coordination and amnesia” . . . as well as hangovers.

But what if you like the flavor of beer? Or that it makes your meals taste better? That’s also a pleasurable effect.

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