Alcosynth mimics the pleasurable effects of alcohol on the brain without the hangover or long-term health problems.
Overconsumption of alcohol is a problem worldwide. According to Alcohol Concern, drinking alcohol is the third major risk factor for disease and death in the UK. Springwise has covered a number of innovations that aim to help curb binge drinking and the resultant negative effects. In the US, a wristband has been developed that measures blood alcohol levels, alerting drinkers when they go over the limit. And in Uruguay, a club rewards those who arrive sober with free entry. Now Alcosynth, attacks the problem from a different angle, aiming to do for alcohol what e-cigarettes did for tobacco.
Alcosynth is intended to mimic the pleasant effects of alcohol without leading to the negative physical consequences such as a dry mouth, nausea, a throbbing head or any of the long-term health issues. Its creator David Nutt, a professor at Imperial College, believes that the substance could replace regular alcohol by 2050. Nutt has now created around 90 different alcosynth compounds, two of which are currently being tested for widespread use. The effects last a couple of hours, as with normal alcohol, and will put an end to the possibility of feeling ‘too’ drunk. Describing how the substance works, Nutt explains, “We know where the good effects of alcohol are mediated in the brain, and can mimic them. And by not touching the bad areas, we don’t have the bad effects.” The second compound, Chaperone, will either be used simultaneously to moderate the effects of Alcosynth on an individual or, more controversially, to “sober up” quickly from Alcosynth at the end of an evening.
This development could have a significant impact on public health, alleviating the health problems caused by alcohol and thus reducing the burden on public health services. It is not yet clear whether the more controlled inebriation offered by Alcosynth will also reduce the social ills which can accompany alcohol misuse such as violence and drunk-driving. Are there other replacement substances that could be developed?