Date rape drug GHB is a naturally occurring brain chemical
4-hydroxybutyrate (4-HB) – a.k.a. gamma hydroxybutyrate or GHB – is a derivative of a brain neurotransmitter that exists in very small amounts in people. GHB taken orally (the key difference) is the infamous “date rape drug”
The accumulation of large amounts of 4-HB is also responsible for a very rare genetic metabolic disorder that causes developmental delays and seizures. The defect is a double recessive gene inherited malfunction that does have two defined drug therapies. Information about this disease can be found at the neurotransmitter disease sites.
K. Michael Gibson, professor and chair of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University, Guo-Fang Zhang, and others in the laboratory of Professor Henri Brunengraber from the Department of Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine of a paper published a paper November 23, 2009, in Journal of Biological Chemistry that details two distinct GHB metabolic pathways using mass spectrophotometry. The print edition is available November 27, 2009.
The definition of the two metabolic mechanisms is expected to lead to the definition of the enzymes that control the metabolic pathways. The definition of the structure and function of the two enzymes could lead to prevention of GHB abuse, protection from the effects of GHB, treatment for the effects of GHB as a date rape drug, and treatment for the disease.
Previous definition of GHB metabolism can be found here.
4-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) was originally developed as a weight loss and body building drug and treatment of alcoholism. It was banned due to extreme side effects years before it became know as the date rape drug.
These sites explore the chemistry and origin of GHB.
K. Michael Gibson, professor and chair of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University.
Site contains an easily understandable chart of metabolism leading to GHB.
Mass spec is quite esoteric for those who never used it.
These sites provide a fundamental and accurate description of the process with a host of more detailed references.