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article imageCan a pill be made to 'sober up' drunken people?

By Tim Sandle     Feb 18, 2013 in Science
A magic pill to sober up someone up after an excessive intake of alcohol may be many years away. However, scientists have succeeded in developing a nanocapsule that can 'sober up' drunken mice.
Scientists have managed to reduce the blood alcohol levels in intoxicated mice, according to Gizmodo. This was by injecting the mice with nanocapsules containing enzymes. For this, the researchers developed a technology whereby multiple enzymes could be tightly packed inside a nanoscale shell.
From a review of the research brief, for the particular study relating to alcohol, the enzymes selected had a role in alcohol metabolism, thereby 'burning off' (metabolizing) the alcohol much faster. The primary enzyme was hydrogen peroxide, together with other enzymes which reduced the toxicity of the hydrogen peroxide by-products. The review indicates that the process can be analogized as administering thousands of liver cells into the blood stream.
The study, RSC reports, consisted of intoxicating a set of mice and then giving one group the nanocapsules containing the enzymes and another group a placebo. The alcohol blood levels were then periodically monitored and it was shown that the levels fell in the group given the enzymes, but not in the control group. The blood alcohol levels reduced by around 35% over three hours in the group administered with the enzyme combination, compared with insignificant reductions in the untreated mice.
It is possible that the research could lead to the development of an alcohol prophylactic or antidote that could be taken orally by people. Should it be possible, such an 'magic pill' remains, however, a long way off.
The research was led by Yunfeng Lu, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UCLA and the findings have been published in Nature Nanotechnology. The research was the product of a U.S. and Chinese collaboration.
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