The researchers believe iomazenil, taken before drinking, might negate some of alcohol’s effects on the brain.
Tests in a driving simulator will determine whether the drug makes volunteer drinkers safer behind the wheel after imbibing.
The results of a pilot study suggest those who take iomazenil before drinking brake more quickly. Researchers from Yale University hope iomazenil could help in developing a stay-sober pill to wean heavy drinkers off alcohol.
Researcher Deepak DSouza, a psychiatrist, said: “A medication that has the potential to block alcohol actions in the central nervous system could act as a unique medication in the treatment of alcohol intoxication and alcoholism.”
“Alcohol is abused commonly but there is no remedy for alcohol intoxication.”
This project is looking at the substance iomazenil and its effect on alcohol intoxication and alcohols effects on driving an automobile.
He is far from the only researcher trying to find a way to take some of the harm out of drinking.
In other recent work on a potential stay sober pill, mice given a drug didn’t get drunk, despite being given enough booze to make them stumble and fall.
It is hoped the drug, naloxone, a chemical cousin of a drug already used to save heroin addicts from overdose, will be given to people for the first time within 18 months.
However, the treatment is also likely to take the pleasure out of boozing. So while you might be able to tolerate booze better, you wouldnt feel like drinking in the first place.
It is also unlikely that a stay-sober pill would protect other organs, such as the liver, from damage.
A third option could be harm-free alcohol.
British researchers are trying to develop liquid drugs that give all the pleasure of alcohol but without any of the harm.
The Valium-like pharmaceutical shots would mimic the pleasant buzz of alcohol without leading to drunkenness.
The substance would have the added bonus of an antidote that when taken would immediately switch off its effects, allowing drinkers to drive home or return to work.
Critics say there is nothing to stop someone taking the new potion, getting tipsy and forgetting to take the antidote before getting in their car.
Such a potion is also unlikely to be welcomed with open arms by the multi-billion-dollar drinks industry.