A new alcoholic beverage is currently being developed that can give drinkers the same kick as regular booze without the nasty hangover afterward.
Prof. David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London, is leading the creation of a synthetic alternative to common alcoholic drinks.
The new beverage, known as Alcarelle, promises to give the same warm, relaxing benefits of beer without causing the nauseating effects of a hangover. If Alcarelle ever becomes available in the market, Nutt believes it could end up changing how many people consume alcohol.
Synthetic Alcohol Alcarelle
Nutt's has long been known in the United Kingdom as a staunch opponent of alcoholism. He was once even claimed that drinking alcohol is more dangerous than using psychedelic drugs such as LSD and ecstasy.
His controversial belief may have cost him his job as chief drug adviser for the British government, but that did not stop him from figuring out a reliable alternative to booze.
The professor's research has led him to develop Alcarelle, a wonder drink of sorts capable of triggering the same high in humans as alcoholic drinks. The secret lies in its use of molecules known as "alcosynth".
In an interview with The Guardian, Nutt recounted how the idea behind Alcarelle came to him after he had found an "antidote" to alcohol. He said this was when he was still working on his Ph.D. in 1983.
"I was studying the effects of alcohol on the Gaba system," Nutt said.
The antidote that the professor developed was actually too dangerous to be used for any clinical purposes. If the drug were to be taken while sober, it would trigger seizures in a person, similar to severe alcohol withdrawal.
When Nutt realized this, he instead devoted his studies on Gaba receptors and how they would react when exposed to alcoholic substances.
Alcosynth have been shown to cause tipsiness by targeting certain Gaba receptors while also avoiding those that could trigger negative side effects such as hangovers.
Nutt said they have identified which parts of the brain react to alcohol positively and negatively. They have also found a way to help mediate these impacts by activating specific receptors such as Gaba and glutamate.
"The effects of alcohol are complicated but... you can target the parts of the brain you want to target," the researcher noted.
Alcarelle can be modified to produce desired results. For instance, a drinker can enjoy having the same high as downing a few cans of beers but without actually getting drunk.
Nutt and his colleagues are the only ones who have tried drinking synthetic alcohol so far since the beverage still has to pass safety testing first.
Aside from releasing Alcarelle as an alcohol alternative, the researchers are also planning on utilizing the same concept on food ingredients. They are collaborating with food scientists to develop a five-year strategy where alcosynth can be used as a food additive.
To achieve this, Nutt said they have to prove that the regulated molecules will not produce any toxicity similar to alcohol. They also need to show that alcosynth, as an ingredient, will not trigger the same bad effects as alcohol does.
If Nutt's wonder drink proves to be successful, it might help mitigate the widespread negative effects of alcoholism. In the UK alone, more than one in 10 Britons over the age of 40 die from liver disease as a result of alcohol drinking.