Melbourne: Scientists have identified a drug that could potentially help our brains reboot and reverse the damage caused by heavy alcohol consumption.
Research in mice show that two weeks of daily treatment with the drug tandospirone reversed the effects of 15 weeks of binge-like alcohol consumption on neurogenesis — the ability of the brain to grow and replace neurons (brain cells).
This is the first time tandospirone has been shown to reverse the deficit in brain neurogenesis induced by heavy alcohol consumption.
Tandospirone acts selectively on a serotonin receptor, according to the research published in the journal Scientific Reports. The researchers also showed in mice that the drug was effective in stopping anxiety-like behaviours associated with alcohol withdrawal, and this was accompanied by a significant decrease in binge-like alcohol intake.
“This is a novel discovery that tandospirone can reverse the deficit in neurogenesis caused by alcohol,” said Professor Selena Bartlett from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
“Other studies in mice have shown that tandospirone improves brain neurogenesis, but this is the first time it has been shown that it can totally reverse the neurogenic deficits induced by alcohol,” Bartlett said. The researchers are constantly looking at new treatment strategies for alcohol abuse and addiction.
“This opens the way to look at if neurogenesis is associated with other substance-abuse deficits, such as memory and learning, and whether this can reverse these,” she said.
This drug is relatively new and available only in China and Japan.