Potential Antialcoholism Agents Found | Chemical & Engineering News
  • CORRECTION: This story was updated on Sept. 14, 2015, to correct the side effects of naltrexone. The antialcoholism drug causes gastrointestinal problems, not depression and addiction.
Volume 93 Issue 33 | p. 30 | Concentrates
Issue Date: August 24, 2015

Potential Antialcoholism Agents Found

ACS Meeting News: β-Carbolines reduce alcohol consumption in rats without side effects
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Organic SCENE
Keywords: ACS meeting news, #ACSBoston, alcoholism, naltrexone, acamprosate, disulfiram, β-carbolines

A new class of drugs could help alcoholics reduce the amount of booze they drink without causing serious side effects. There are three antialcoholism drugs currently approved by FDA, and each has downsides: Naltrexone can cause gastrointestinal problems; acamprosate has effects ranging from allergic reactions to irregular heartbeat; and disulfiram causes accelerated heart rate, difficulty breathing, and nausea. V. V. N. Phani Babu Tiruveedhula, James Cook, and coworkers at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, decided to look at β-carbolines as possible antialcoholism drug leads. Previous animal studies had shown that compounds with antialcoholism effects had a mechanism of action similar to that of the β-carbolines. In a new study, the team developed an efficient two-step synthesis of β-carbolines and tested some of the compounds, including 3-isopropoxy-β-carboline hydrochloride (shown), on rats that were addicted to alcohol. The compounds, which are orally active, reduced the animals’ anxiety and alcohol consumption without causing side effects.

 
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