Led by materials scientist Raffaele Mezzenga and food scientist Jiaqi Su, the research team developed a gel made from milk proteins and gold nanoparticles for hangover prevention. The hangover remedy shifts alcohol metabolism from the liver to the gastrointestinal tract, avoiding harmful acetaldehyde and converting alcohol into the less toxic acetic acid instead.

In initial tests on mice, the new hangover treatment reduced the animals’ blood alcohol levels by 40 percent within 30 minutes and by over 50 percent over five hours. When used regularly with alcohol, the gel protected the animals from weight loss and liver damage.

“Our hydrogel also shows a protective effect on the liver while attenuating intestinal damage and dysbiosis associated with chronic alcohol consumption, which represents a promising strategy for effective alcohol detoxification,” the researchers wrote as part of their study. They published the results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology in mid-May 2024.

The hangover remedy is made from whey, a byproduct of cheese production. By cooking, the whey forms long protein strands that are combined with an iron-containing compound and gold nanoparticles to form a gel. The team explained that this slowly releases enzymatic reactions that convert alcohol into acetic acid.

The slow digestion of the gel in the gastrointestinal tract uses the time to safely break down alcohol, but can no longer influence its effects in the bloodstream. Further research is needed to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the gel for human trials. However, the team has already applied for a patent for the gel.

It is healthier not to drink alcohol at all, Mezzenga noted in a press release from ETH Zurich. The hangover remedy “could be particularly interesting for people who don’t want to give up alcohol completely, but don’t want to put a strain on their body and aren’t actively looking for the effects of alcohol.”

By Philipp Rall

The original for this article “Drink without regret? Researchers develop possible anti-hangover gel” comes from futurezone.de.