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Researchers develop gel made with whey that combats the effects of alcohol

Researchers developed a gel that helps the decomposition of alcohol before reaching the bloodstream, which can reduce damage and the harmful symptoms that the substance causes in the body.

The gel is made from whey protein — the famous whey —, gold and iron. The technology has already been tested on rats and the results showed that its use can help in the short and long term, promoting less weight loss, less damage and improved fat metabolism in the liver, among other effects.

In a study published in Nature Nanotechnology, scientists at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich demonstrated that the gel breaks down alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract, converting it into acetic acid, a substance that causes less damage. “Unlike when it is metabolized in the liver, [com o uso do gel] no harmful acetaldehyde is produced as an intermediate product,” said Professor Raffaele Mezzenga, who participated in the research.

The substance should be taken before or during alcohol consumption, as it only works when the drink is still in the digestive system — where it is absorbed through the mucous membranes. Once it enters the bloodstream, when alcohol intoxication occurs, its harms are no longer combated by the gel.

To produce it, whey protein — widely used in protein supplements — is boiled for several hours and, with the addition of salt and water, forms a gel. This presentation format was chosen because it has the advantage of being digested very slowly in the body. Furthermore, iron, glucose and gold atoms are added as catalysts. The precious metal was chosen because it is not absorbed by the body and therefore remains effective for longer in the digestive tract.

Decreased damage in rats

In the study, the gel was tested on rats separated into two groups: one that received alcohol just once and another that drank it for ten days. In the first tests, half an hour after ingesting the substance, the gel reduced the blood alcohol level by 40%. After five hours, up to 56% compared to the control group.

In those who received it for a longer time, less weight loss, less damage to the liver and, therefore, better fat metabolism in the organ, as well as better blood indicators, were reported. Other organs, such as the spleen or intestine, as well as the tissues of the mice, also showed less damage caused by alcohol.

The group of researchers has already applied for a patent for the gel and will now begin clinical trials for its use in humans to be authorized.

Source: CNN Brasil

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