A drug used to treat heart and other circulatory conditions including high blood pressure and that also helps relieve anxiety as it is a beta-blocker, is to be introduced as the new wonder drug to beat alcohol addiction, according to scientists at Cambridge.
The drug, already available on prescription, apparently helps alcoholics forget about alcohol cravings and quit drinking booze for ever.
A bit far-fetched? Yes. Useful in the battle against booze? Perhaps.
Scientists at Cambridge University believe that the drug Propranolol may block cravings for alcohol in addicts, even sub-conscious impulses.
The scientists believe that the drug will help prevent a ‘cue-drug memory’ that occurs when recollections of times, places and scenarios that are linked to the addicts previous usage of the drug create an impulse in the addict to drink.
A clinical trial is due to begin later this year following studies on rats that showed Propanolol could wipe a stimulus from the rats’ brains when they craved a drink.
The drug targets the beta-adrenergic receptors in the brain which help to create a strong emotional memory. The Cambridge scientists believe that the drug could erase emotional memories linked to alcohol for addicts’ brains.
Dr Amy Milton, one of the leading scientists in the study, said: “Traditionally, memory was viewed as similar to a book, which can be shelved but never changed once printed. We now think that memory is more like a word processing document – you can save it and then recall it, at which point you can adapt or even delete its contents.”
The clinical trial is funded by the Medical Research Council as part of a £2.7m five-year research programme in to the drug. If successful, which seems to be too much to ask for, then it would obviously revolutionise the way alcohol treatment is undertaken. Suppose, we’ll have to wait and see.