Can Science Make a Potent Potable with None of the Problematic Effects?

Scientist David Nutt has been developing a synthetic alcohol substitute for many years. Finally at a place where he can substantiate his claims, he has announced that this alcohol substitute—which he calls Alcarelle—can potentially allows drinkers to enjoy all of the inherent benefits of alcohol with none of its hangups.  That means we may see an end to acute issues like hangovers but also chronic problems like alcohol-related cancers. 

In a statement, the Imperial College London head of Neuropsychopharmacology says, “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 notes, “The effects of alcohol are complicated but…you can target the parts of the brain you want to target.”

While the ten-year project to develop Alcarelle is still not yet complete, Nutt believes we could see this product hit the market very soon.  He goes on to explain, “The industry knows alcohol is toxic substance. 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.”

Yes, perhaps we are fortunate to be able to enjoy the benefits of this toxic substance because the potable has been around for eons.  But the benefits of modernity is that we might use technology to help alter the way we enjoy alcohol, particularly in avoiding or minimizing its negative effects. As such, Nutt and his R&D partner, David Orren, are now in the process of raising the final £20 million to finally bring the product to market.

Nutt also notes that Alcarelle will have many other benefits.  For one, it can be modified; meaning that consumers will be able to decide what type of alcohol and how much they would like to consume.  This, essentially, means the difference between a glass of wine at dinner or a few cocktails at the bar with friends.  Of course, all of this hinges on the ability-and efficiency—of getting the molecule into the drink in the first place.  

Indeed, he concludes, “The real challenge is taking the molecule to a drink. The regulatory side is much harder than the science.”

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