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Potential Antialcoholism Agents Found

ACS Meeting News: β-Carbolines reduce alcohol consumption in rats without side effects

by Stu Borman
August 24, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 33

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.

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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