The ETH Zurich has developed a gel to reverse the effects of alcohol – rts.ch

The ETH Zurich has developed a gel to reverse the effects of alcohol – rts.ch
The ETH Zurich has developed a gel to reverse the effects of alcohol – rts.ch

A research team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) has developed a gel that suppresses the effects of alcohol by preventing it from passing into the bloodstream. It was tested on mice that drank alcohol without harm. Clinical tests are still needed before the product is authorized for human use.

The gel developed by Zurich scientists breaks down alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract, the digestive tract, before it passes into the blood, according to a study published Monday in the specialized journal Nature Nanotechnology.

In the future, this gel could reduce the harmful and intoxicating effects of alcohol in humans, said ETH researcher Raffaelle Mezzenga. “Our technology could offer a unique solution in the fight against the global problem of alcohol abuse.”

Toxic effects for the liver

When consumed, alcohol passes into the stomach and intestine, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream and then transported to the liver. This is where most of the alcohol is broken down. The liver contains enzymes that transform alcohol into different substances, including acetaldehyde and then acetic acid. Acetaldehyde is toxic and destroys the liver.

“The gel transforms alcohol into acetic acid without producing acetaldehyde,” explains Raffaelle Mezzenga. If ingested before or during alcohol consumption, it transforms it before it enters the bloodstream. “But if alcohol is already in the blood, it’s too late,” says the researcher.

Scientists see different areas of application for the gel. According to Raffaelle Mezzenga, it would be interesting “for people who do not want to give up alcohol, but who do not want to overload their body and who are not interested in the intoxicating effects of alcohol. We could drink a few glasses of alcohol and driving your car safely.

Reduce the consequences of alcohol

The gel should above all help reduce alcohol-related deaths: “It should in no way encourage excessive consumption,” emphasizes the researcher. Excessive alcohol consumption is estimated to kill more than three million people each year.

“We have clear evidence that our technology reduces the negative effects of alcohol in organs like the liver and intestines.” In tests with mice, the animals had less weight loss, less liver damage, better blood values, and less damage to the spleen and intestines.

“We plan to carry out clinical trials soon” in order to obtain authorization for use in humans, said Raffaelle Mezzenga. The scientists have already filed a patent application for their gel.

ats/juma

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