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Friday 29 March 2019

Imagine a big night out with no adverse effects

Wouldn’t it be great if a night of drinking didn’t pose a risk to our health and we could wake up the next morning feeling fresh and ready to go?
A new synthetic alcohol that produces all the good effects of booze without out any of the harmful ones may be available within five years.

A company called Alcarelle, founded by British professor David Nutt (above), believes the product will transform the drinks industry.

“Our goal is to develop an alcohol-free adult beverage which imitates the aspects of alcohol that we all want – sociability, relaxation, fun - but without those horrible harmful effects that cause so much damage to our health,” the Alcarelle website says.

Nutt has spent years studying the way alcohol stimulates different receptors in the brain and has discovered that some receptors bind with alcohol to provide the positive effects we enjoy, such as feeling relaxed and sociable; while others combine to bring about negative effects such as headaches, liver damage and hangovers.

“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 told the science pages of UK newspaper The Guardian.

“The effects of alcohol are complicated but … you can target the parts of the brain you want to target.”

Nutt says it is possible to design a peak effect into Alcarelle which means no matter how much a drinker consumes, they won’t get drunk.

Nutt is an English neuropsychopharmacologist specialising in the research of drugs that affect the brain and conditions such as addiction, anxiety, and sleep.

He is head of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Centre for Academic Psychiatry in the Division of Brain Sciences, Dept of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London. He is also visiting professor at the Open University in the UK and Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

Nutt and his business partner David Orren started raising seed funding in November 2018 to bring Alcarelle to market.

Their aim isn’t for Alcarelle to become a drinks company in its own right, but to supply companies in the drinks industry with the active ingredient, so that they can make and market their own products.

The company’s managing director, Orren says Alcarelle isn’t aiming to replicate fine wines or single malt whisky.
“We think, once we’re approved, and on the market,” he said, “we are going to see an amazing and wonderful explosion of creativity. The drinks industry employs really creative people.”

Orren recently told the Irish Examiner that it might be able to wrap up all the necessary safety testing and regulatory requirements within five years.

The Alcarelle website says Orren “brings 20 years international experience of enabling disruptive technologies to secure market engagement”.

The website says: The work is not finished and questions remain to be answered. But we believe the end result is worth the investment in time, effort and money that this project requires. The long-term benefits to people and society will be enormous.

“There is obviously great potential for Alcarelle to become a successful business. If we succeed, Alcarelle will provide a percentage of its income to research initiatives to develop a wider range of products that offer enjoyable alternatives to drinking ethanol.

"Some will be used to influence government and we will use our success to build a viable long-term business ensuring the future availability of choice for those who prefer to drink a safer and more responsible alternative to alcohol."

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