Stroke damage control with caffeinol (caffeine and alcohol/ethanol)

A study found a special cocktail of caffeine and ethanol actually reduced brain damage in a rat model of ischemic stroke up to 80% so long as it was administered within three hours of the stroke. Now the study is being run on humans, check it out:

In experimental drug delivering the potency of two cups of strong coffee and a mixed drink has been shown to limit stroke-induced brain damage in animals. Now, this agent has been demonstrated to be safe in a small pilot study of ischemic stroke patients reported in today’s rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. [...]

Those studies “demonstrated that the combination of caffeine and ethanol may reduce the amount of damage after stroke. Neither caffeine or alcohol offered protection alone, but the combination was protective,” says senior author James C. Grotta, M.D., professor of neurology and director of the stroke program, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas. [...]

Researchers administered the combination to 23 stroke patients (16 women, average age 71). The patients represented a diverse racial mix: nine white, nine black, four Hispanic and one Asian.

“Our goal was to see if we could safely achieve the same blood levels of caffeinol that we achieved in our animal studies,” he says. “We discovered that we could use even lower doses than we used in the animal studies and achieve the blood levels that were neuroprotective in animals.”

Moreover caffeinol, which is given by infusion, can be safely administered to patients who are also receiving clot-busting treatment with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Eight patients received both caffeinol and tPA. One patient with a very severe stroke who received caffeinol and tPA suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain), but Grotta says an independent safety officer concluded it was not related to caffeinol.

The first set of four patients were given low-dose caffeinol (caffeine 6 milligrams per kilogram plus ethanol 0.2 grams per kilogram). That dose did not achieve the target blood level, so the dose was increased (8 mg/kg caffeine and 0.4 g/kg ethanol) in the next group of 19 patients. That achieved target blood levels, he says. However, Grotta cautioned that the ethanol level may need further adjustment because a patient with a history of heart disease developed reversible heart failure at that dose level. It is unclear how caffeinol works to protect the brain, but it is being studied. (via.)

So they haven’t worked out all the kinks just yet, but all-in-all it sounds like they’re on the path to some good things there.

Alcohol substitute that avoids hangovers in the works

Alcohol substitute that avoids drunkenness and hangovers in development – Telegraph – “An alcohol substitute that mimics its pleasant buzz without leading to drunkenness and hangovers is being developed by scientists. The new substance could have the added bonus of being “switched off” instantaneously with a pill, to allow drinkers to drive home or return to work. The synthetic alcohol, being developed from chemicals related to Valium, works like alcohol on nerves in the brain that provide a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation.”

Sounds all well and good, but, as a rule I’m skeptical of pharmaceuticals. I can just imagine something like this becoming the norm, and then ten years down the road we find out it causes some yet-unheard-of form of bodily damage. (Vioxx, anyone?)