A night of drinking comes with many burdens and questions. How am I going to get home? Am I going to be ready for the morning? What on earth am I doing to my liver? Well, it seems that a team of scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles may have found an answer to all of these drinking dilemmas.
The team, led by Professor Yunfeng Lu, has created an enzyme cluster called a nanoxomplex, which they say can prevent alcohol intoxication and halt liver damage.
Your liver has enzymes that help break down the alcohol in your blood. One such enzyme is alcohol oxidase. It breaks alcohol down into acetaldehyde, which is more toxic than alcohol itself. This in turn is then further broken down into acetate. This process, on average, works at a rate of one ounce of alcohol per hour. That's about one beer or one large shot per hour, and odds are you’re consuming much more than that.
The scientists from UCLA created a nanocomplex with the enzyme alcohol oxidase and another enzyme catalase, which they believed would lower blood alcohol levels faster than naturally possible by the liver. After feeding mice alcohol and this nanocomplex, they noted significant reduction in blood alcohol concentration of the mice. The concentration was reduced by 10% after 45 minutes, 32% after an hour and a half, and 37% after 3 hours. This was significantly lower than the control.
The scientists also noted that the mice given this nanoxomplex had very low levels of alanine transaminase, an enzyme biomarker for liver damage.
This is all great, but they encountered one issue. Their nanocomplex didn’t include an enzyme that could break down the toxic acetaldehyde, though the optimistic Lu said he doesn't believe this will be a “major obstacle” in his quest to perfect his nanoxomplex.
So can a couple of enzymes replace the need for a designated driver? Maybe. Will we ever see this nanoxomplex of enzymes next to the 6-packs in the supermarket? Who knows? There is no denying that it is going to be a long time until this breakthrough could possibly proceed to human trials. However, if it does, Super Bowl Monday may not be as bad. But how would I know? I’m only 18...