Synthetic alcohol that will get you drunk without a hangover 'ready in 5 years'
One of the keys to stopping most of us from drinking too much is the hangover that follows a heavy night. So what if we could get rid of them? Well - that may lead to a lot of health problems when there's nothing keeping us away from it other than the money we spend. But if it all works out, there may be alcohol on the market that gives no hangover and has no ill effect on your health.
'Alcarelle' has no side-effects, no hangover the next morning, and results in no damage to your liver or any other part of your body normally effected by drinking. Professor Dave Nutt, a former government advisor has invented a molecule, also known as 'alcosynth', which supposedly targets specific receptors in the brain to get you drunk without any of the worst aspects of it.
Nutt, who was reportedly dropped from his government position after questioning the moral standards with which we judge drug use, is now the director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London. He's spent much of his life studying alcohol and its harmful effects, as he explained to The Guardian.
“The industry knows alcohol is a toxic substance,” he said. “If it were discovered today, it would be illegal as a foodstuff. The safe limit of alcohol, if you apply food standards criteria, would be one glass of wine a year.”
He's not interested in stopping anyone from drinking, however, as he regularly drinks and even owns his own wine bar. Instead, he's looking for an alternative - a search that began back in 1983, when he discovered an antidote to alcohol.
While the use of this antidote was, he admits, too dangerous to be of use, it did lead him to realise that stimulating receptors in the Gaba system of the brain was the key to creating a new form of alcohol.
"We know where in the brain alcohol has its ‘good’ effects and ‘bad’ effects, and what particular receptors mediate that – Gaba, glutamate and other ones, such as serotonin and dopamine. The effects of alcohol are complicated but … you can target the parts of the brain you want to target."
His aim is to modify the way in which molecules bind to a receptor, producing different effects. If successful, they could add a peak effect - so no matter how much of the alcosynth you have, you won't get too drunk. The drug is currently in its final stage of development, but according to Nutt the regulation is more difficult to overcome than the science.
Before approval, they need to prove its safety, and are currently working with food scientists to design an appropriate product. The process usually takes three years, but due to the unique use of this drug, it could take even longer.
‘There will obviously be testing to check the molecule is safe. And we need to show that it’s different from alcohol. We will demonstrate that it doesn’t produce toxicity like alcohol does. And of course we don’t want hangovers. We have to show it doesn’t have the bad effects of alcohol."
Once it has been approved, the plan is to sell Alcarelle to the alcohol industry, who can then start putting it in drinks. Seed funding was raised in November, so now Nutt and his business partner, David Orren, can now start using the £20 million ($26 million) from investors to bring it to market.