Scientists are hard at work creating a pill that will let you drink a whole lot of booze but limit the alcohol's effect on the brain. That sounds great, right? Wrong. It's a terrible, deadly idea.
The American and Australian scientists behind this drug have been looking long and hard at the way glial cells (which make up roughly 90 per cent of your brain) respond to alcohol. These cells play a crucial role in the body's immune defence system, helping to fight off infections. The drug makes it so the glial cells, essentially shut off. In tests on mice this has reduced the signs of drunkenness to almost nothing. Mice given enough alcohol to make them dance on a tiny table with their pants off barely showed any signs of being buzzed. Hooray for science! So, why do I think this is a bad thing?
There's a very good reason that your immune system responds in such a dramatic way to alcohol: it can kill you. That's one of the good things about drunkenness — it's somewhat self-limiting (in most people). You get really drunk, and you act stupid, kiss someone you're not supposed to, and usually go to sleep before you've had enough to kill you. Remember that whole Four Loko debacle last year? Where people were getting extraordinarily f**ked up but didn't realise it because there were so caffeinated, and a lot of them ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning? That's what we're talking about here. Call me a Negative Nostradamus, but I predict that if this drug gets approved people will die.
The idea behind it is that it could help people from embarrassing themselves on a night out. Yeah, because puking your guts out while your brian thinks it's completely sober isn't embarrassing. Because getting thrown in jail because you were driving with an insanely high blood-alcohol level, "but I swear, officier, I'm completely lucid" isn't embarrassing. It makes me want to start working for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), work my way up to the top in a couple of months (with my go-getterness), just so I can veto the hell out of it when they try to get this thing through the system. [The Telegraph]