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Take Two Of These

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 4:41pm
David Mantey, Executive Editor, PD&D

Just as I was hedging my health bet and considering a new approach to social lubrication, researchers announced a nanocapsule that wraps alcohol-digesting enzymes in a nanoscale polymer to quickly reduce blood alcohol content. If the experiment worked with drunken mice, I see no reason to oppose premature jubilation.

Watch: Engineering Newswire 26: Super Sober Pills

By injecting the aforementioned inebriated mice with nanocapsules full of enzymes that are instrumental in alcohol metabolism, researchers have not only sobered the little vermin, but created a unique drug delivery technology that could disrupt the medical industry.

According to Yunfeng Lu, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UCLA, who led the research with Cheng Ji, a professor of biochemical and molecular biology at the University of Southern California, the treatment would “almost be like having millions of liver cells inside your stomach or in your intestine, helping you to digest alcohol.” Sure, it may seem like a waste of that [undisclosed amount] bar tab that you rang up while wining and dining a few prospective clients at an industry event, but when it comes time to hit the trade show floor, or wake up for that 6:45 a.m. flight, this technology becomes an enticing proposition.

Pending further successful trials, Lu and Ji are seizing an opportunity in an otherwise untapped market — unless you consider the disruptive influence of Chaser pills and homemade hangover remedies, neither of which have proven more effective than equal alcohol to water ingestion ratios.

Professor Lu even envisions a time when this alcohol antidote could be taken orally. I see a fishbowl full of these magic LuJi (brand pending) pills as you exit the bar, maybe even a dispenser in the bathroom, given the over-the-counter status (and facility cleanliness). Either way, Lu and Ji should start looking for realtors that represent small islands and countries, because if this treatment is successful it could be the biggest little pill this side of that popular blue diamond that started making the rounds in the late 90s. 

The group of researchers hasn’t stopped with alcoholism when it comes to potential cures that could benefit from their new encapsulation method. According to multiple sources, the group is also working with pharmaceutical company Kythera on a hair-loss prevention drug that uses the same nanocapsules to deliver an enzyme that breaks down dihydrotestosterone (also known as DHT), which causes male pattern baldness. This pair of forward-thinking innovators has offered two fantastic gifts for enabling partners around the world. If only the news broke a few days earlier, it would’ve changed the tone of Valentine’s Day cards this holiday season. Here’s hoping innovation continues to advance beyond poor life decisions.

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