The consumption of alcohol is closely linked to human history. However, despite its intoxicating essence and short-term effects, the consequences of getting drunk are very unpleasant; and until now nobody had found a solution to deal with the nasty hangover.
However, a group of researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), in the United States, has found an antidote that has at least demonstrated its effectiveness in mice. The results have been published in the Advanced Materials magazine.
Although at first glance it seems to be a frivolous project, studies show the pernicious effects of poisoning. “Between 8% and 10% of visits to the emergency room in the United States are due to acute alcohol intoxication,” Yunfeng Lu, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UCLA, says in The Conversation. In addition “Alcohol is the main risk factor for premature death and disability among people aged 15 to 49 years and its abuse leads to serious health problems, including cardiovascular and liver cancer,” adds Lu.
What aggravates this situation is that current treatments for alcohol overdose depend heavily on the body’s enzymes. ” Therefore I decided to design an antidote that could help people enjoy wine, cocktails or beer without a hangover, and at the same time create a life-saving therapy to treat victims of poisoning and overdoses in the emergency room” explains the researcher.
Lu together with Professor Cheng Ji, an expert in liver diseases at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, were inspired by how the body breaks down alcohol, and then created capsules based on three natural enzymes that convert alcohol into harmless molecules that are then excreted.
“That may sound simple, because these enzymes were not new, but the difficult part was finding a safe and effective way to administer them to the liver,” Lu explains. Therefore, to protect the enzymes, they wrapped each of them in a shell, using a material that the US Food and Drug Administration. I had already approved for the pills.
They then injected the nanocapsules into the veins of the drunken mice, where they rushed through the circulatory system, eventually reaching the liver where they entered the cells and served as mini-reactors to quickly digest the alcohol.
As a result they found that in drunk mice (which fall asleep much faster than drunken humans), the treatment lowered the blood alcohol level by 45% in just four hours compared to mice that did not receive any treatment. Meanwhile, the blood concentration of acetaldehyde (a highly toxic carcinogenic compound, which causes headaches and vomiting, makes people blush after drinking, and occurs during the normal metabolism of alcohol) remained extremely low.
Tests on animals
“The animals that received the drug woke up from their alcohol-induced sleep faster than their untreated counterparts, something that all college students would appreciate,” joked the scientist.
The ability to break down alcohol quickly efficiently should help patients wake up earlier and prevent alcohol poisoning. It must also protect the liver from stress and harm associated with alcohol.
The next step will be to perform more tests and eventually test them on people. “We are currently completing tests to ensure that our nanocapsules are safe and do not trigger unexpected or dangerous side effects,” adds Lu. “If our treatments prove to be effective in animals, we could start clinical trials in humans as early as one year.”
As the researcher suggests, this drug that young people exceed the consumption of alcohol but will make the recovery much faster. Meanwhile, the smartest thing to do is to drink in moderation and remember that, although it is not being favored by evolution, alcoholism is a serious problem in our society.