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An innovative gel has been developed to coat the stomach of drinkers, potentially reducing the effects of alcohol consumption, including drunkenness and nausea.

In 2016, alcohol misuse caused approximately three million deaths and resulted in 132.6 million years of lost healthy life due to disability. Despite its significant impact on public health, effective treatments for alcohol-related issues have been lacking until recently.

New gel developed to solve intoxication

Researchers have developed a new gel-based artificial enzyme featured in a Nature Nanotechnology study, offering a potential solution to alcohol intoxication. By leveraging advanced nanotechnology, this innovation targets a prevalent health issue by aiding the body’s detoxification process when orally administered.

Alcohol consumption typically burdens the liver. This breakthrough offers a promising antidote by facilitating ethanol breakdown, potentially mitigating intoxication symptoms.

Efforts to enhance the body’s alcohol metabolism have traditionally focused on natural enzymes, but they face practical challenges due to cost, fragility, and storage issues. This led to the development of biomimetic nanozymes, inspired by nature’s design. Researchers utilized amyloid fibrils from milk protein as a scaffold for anchoring iron atoms, creating a stable and efficient artificial enzyme.

Iron atoms dispersion attained through fibril network

The team achieved the dispersion of iron atoms throughout the fibril network, forming an efficient catalytic platform. The resulting nanozyme closely resembled the structure and function of horseradish peroxidase, a powerful natural enzyme.

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a gel that redirects the breakdown of alcohol from the liver to the digestive tract, eliminating the production of harmful acetaldehyde. The gel, tested through experiments, showed a preference for producing acetic acid over toxic acetaldehyde, minimizing associated health risks.

The team advanced their research by integrating their nanozyme into a resilient hydrogel, suitable for oral administration. This innovative formulation ensures the nanozyme’s efficacy in detoxification within the gastrointestinal tract for an extended duration. Researchers tested a nanozyme hydrogel on mice with acute alcohol intoxication. The findings were impressive: treated mice exhibited a remarkable reduction in blood alcohol levels, dropping by over 55 percent within five hours, without any harmful accumulation of acetaldehyde.