Switzerland: the EPFZ invents a gel to swallow which complicates drunkenness

Switzerland: the EPFZ invents a gel to swallow which complicates drunkenness
Switzerland: the EPFZ invents a gel to swallow which complicates drunkenness

The art of the aperitif could soon be turned upside down by the latest discovery from the ETHZ. Swiss researchers have developed a gel that breaks down alcohol in the digestive tract before it enters the bloodstream, and therefore, before it becomes drunk. The instructions for use are simple: you swallow this product before or while you drink several glasses, and the magic happens. “It is interesting for those who do not want to completely give up alcohol, but do not want to put a strain on their body and do not actively seek intoxication,” explains Professor Raffaele Mezzenga.

On laboratory mice, the results were convincing: those to whom the gel was administered during a “cooking” saw their alcohol level drop by 40% in thirty minutes. After five hours, the rate even drops by 56%. After ten days of testing, the guinea pig rodents’ liver, spleen, intestine and blood values ​​were also less damaged. Clinical trials are still necessary before the fluid can be authorized for human use, but the researchers have already filed a patent application.

“If it saves lives, it can have advantages, but from an ethical and symbolic point of view, it raises big questions,” notes Camille Robert, co-secretary general of the Romand Group for Addiction Studies. To whom and how will this product be distributed? And what about the question of addiction? The message sent goes against the one that we have been trying to convey in the field of prevention for years, that is to say to drink less.

Same skepticism among Nicolas Jacquier, oenologist at Cave de Bovanche, in Ardon (VS). “It is undoubtedly good for road safety and to avoid abuse, but drunkenness is part of the world of wine. She creates stories, projects, discussions. To make it disappear is also to remove a little of its magic.” The winegrower rather calls for everyone’s responsibility. “It’s amazing what science can do, but the risk is that we won’t know how to stop drinking ourselves, and ultimately, what will we have gained?”

It is acetaldehyde that is toxic to the body. This organic compound is produced when alcohol is metabolized by the liver. The property of the ETH protein gel is to bypass this process by converting alcohol into harmless acetic acid directly in the digestive tract. The gel is made from whey proteins, boiled until they form fine fibrils, to which salt and water are added. These fibrils are then immersed in an iron bath. Add a few nanoparticles of glucose and gold to cause the necessary enzymatic reactions in the digestive tract and voila!

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