They create gel that could eliminate the hangover caused by drinking alcohol

A hydrogel based on dairy proteins and gold nanoparticles, which is administered orally, could be the effective antidote against acute alcohol poisoning and the ultimate hangover remedy, by preventing the feared consequences of alcohol. For now, the solution has been tested on mice and it works.

The hydrogel, whose details have been published in an article in Nature Nanotechnology, has been developed by a team of scientists led by the Federal Polytechnic School (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, with the collaboration of the Belgian University of Ghent, the Agricultural University and Zhejiang Shuren University, both in China, and the Institute of Photonic Sciences of Barcelona (ICFO).

Although it is common, Alcohol consumption causes millions of deaths each year. In 2016 alone, three million deaths were attributed to alcohol.

Acetaldehyde, responsible for many hangover symptoms

There are therapies to relieve alcohol poisoning, but they are usually administered intravenously and typically only offer temporary relief by targeting symptoms such as nausea and headaches.

Additionally, some therapies can also cause the buildup of acetaldehyde, which can damage the body's organs. This situation urges us to find clinical strategies that minimize the harmful effects of alcohol poisoning both in the short and long term.

The gel shifts the breakdown of alcohol from the liver to the digestive tract. Unlike what happens when alcohol is metallized in the liver, no harmful acetaldehyde is produced as an intermediate product,” explains materials scientist Raffaele Mezzenga from ETH Zurich.

Acetaldehyde is to blame for many hangover symptoms, including nausea, headaches, dry mouth, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, elevated skin temperature and facial redness, Science Alert reports.

Oral antidote gel

Now, the team led by ETH Zurich researchers Jaqi Su and Mezzenga has developed a possible solution in the form of an oral antidote gel, which they have tested on mice.

The gel was created using beta-lactoglobulina rich whey protein produced during cheese making.

To catalyze alcohol oxidation, the authors produced nanoscale iron-anchored single-site beta-lactoglobulin fibrils to mimic the coordination structure of the natural enzyme horseradish peroxidase, which is responsible for breaking down alcohol in the body.

The team tested the hydrogel in mice and found that it remained stable, tolerated the digestive environment, and substantially reduced blood alcohol levels of the animals. Furthermore, it also prevented the additional buildup of toxic acetaldehyde.

Although these studies were conducted in mice in laboratory settings, the authors indicate that alcohol's detoxification capabilities could have potential for clinical translation, but emphasize that further research is needed.

(With information from EFE)