Imagine a world in which knock off drinks didn't result in a day-ruining hangover. Well, if you stopped yourself at a couple of standard drinks that could be your reality right now but for anyone who enjoys a few more (responsibly) we have some good news. A product that makes you feel buzzed, without the accompanying hangover and health concerns, could be on the market within five years.
The "synthetic alcohol" called Alcarelle is the brainchild of UK researcher Professor David Nutt and it's now attracting significant interest from investors. He told The Guardian that he's been working on the invention for a number of years, which works on receptors in the brain to induce tipsiness without the adverse side effects.
“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," he explains. "The effects of alcohol are complicated but … you can target the parts of the brain you want to target.”
You will even be able to adjust the effect you feel – whether you want to experience the impact of having a few bevs at a BBQ or a tipple at a work lunch – but no matter how much Alcarelle you consume, you won't ever get drunk off it.
At this stage, only Nutt and the other researchers in his team have tried Alcarelle and it's yet to undergo safety testing. The "holy grail of molecules" will likely be incorporated into a drink product as a food additive or ingredient.
“There will obviously be testing to check the molecule is safe,” says Nutt. “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."
Given the wide-ranging impact alcohol abuse can have on health, relationships and the community, the invention could be a welcome one.