Scientists Are So, So Close to Creating a Hangover Cure

It uses enzymes to mimic the liver and clear alcohol from the bloodstream quicker.

While human civilization is, by and large, trundling haphazardly toward enlightenment on most fronts, there are some puzzles it feels like we'll never get an answer to. Who shot JFK? Where is Bigfoot? Who's been slipping Harry Maguire the brain and nerve tonic that Ken Griffey Jr got hooked on in The Simpsons?

However, one of the other seemingly unachievable dreams might have an answer now that there's been a breakthrough in the search for a cure to the hangover.

A team from UCLA led by chemical engineering professor Yunfeng Lu has synthesized a "hangover pill", which essentially mimics the action of liver cells in metabolizing alcohol and removing it from the bloodstream, thereby making you less drunk more quickly and mitigating the hangover afterwards.

The study, entitled "A Hepatocyte-Mimicking Antidote for Alcohol Intoxication", says in its abstract that getting drunk causes many serious diseases and that "current treatments are mostly supportive and unable to remove alcohol efficiently", it's better to look to this "antidote" which, it says, "holds great promise for the treatment of alcohol intoxication and poisoning and can provide therapeutic benefits".

"Administered to alcohol-intoxicated mice, the antidote rapidly accumulates in the liver and enables a significant reduction of the blood alcohol concentration. Moreover, blood acetaldehyde concentration is maintained at an extremely low level, significantly contributing to liver protection."

The mice had ethanol pumped straight into their stomachs and they snoozed straight off like the day-drunk uncle at a family wedding. Then, they were given capsules filled with blood and enzymes which turned the alcohol in their blood into less harmful byproducts. Four hours later, their blood alcohol levels had dropped by up to 45 percent and their organs were in better shape than if they'd been left to digest the alcohol without the enzymes.


While human trials are a long way off at the minute, this could be the great leap forward we've been looking for: as Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin was to laudanum, so this pill could be to a Big Mac meal with mozzarella dippers and full fat Coke.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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