Everyone knows that alcohol isn’t a new thing. It has defined our history, our religions and our way of life. Be it wine in France, beer in Germany, vodka in Russia or sake in Japan, many peoples have adopted alcohol as a part of their culture, their identity. Alcohol and humans go back a long way, but most people don’t know quite how long: we have been consuming alcoholic beverages since Sumerian times, i.e. the beginning of civilisation as we know it. Beer in Sumeria was as important for socialisation and bringing people together as it is today, which shows that our relationship with it is even closer than one might imagine. Throughout our long history together, we have come to know that it has both positive and negative sides: it makes us dozy, happy and tipsy, but it also causes damage to our organs and causes headaches and nausea. We all know that alcohol is a double edged sword, and that we must enjoy it carefully. But now, Imperial College professor David Nutt aims to put an end to the negative aspect of alcohol and finally turn it into the nectar of the gods men have always made it to be.
The compound developed by professor Nutt has been branded “alcosynth”, with almost a hundred different compounds synthesised and patented. Two of these are currently undergoing extensive tests for their validation for public use. Nutt and his team believe the substance will revolutionise the alcoholic beverage industry, even estimating their compounds may completely replace ordinary alcohol by 2050. If true, this would also remove the problems of drunk driving (if humans are even allowed to drive anymore by 2050), alcohol related diseases, inebriate domestic violence and productivity issues related to hangovers, among others, benefiting not only the consumer, but also society in general.
This apparently miraculous substance is but a clever manipulation of alcohol’s chemistry, according to professor Nutt. He says that, due to our extensive knowledge of the effect of alcohol on brain chemistry coming from over 30 years of observation and analysis, it is possible to isolate what causes good effects on our organisms and what doesn’t; with that in mind, it’s only a matter of devising a substance that only has the good effects. While alcosynth is admittedly still early in its process of being released onto the populace, Nutt has high hopes for his compounds, saying he knows the beverages industry knows alcohol will be gone by the end of the first half of the century. However, understandably so, investors are still sceptic about the validity of the substance to put too much capital into it. While alcosynth presumably is less inebriating than traditional alcohol and inoffensive to the brain and liver, the research costs are high and the promise has not been widely legitimised yet.
Some within the industry say alcosynth is unnecessary since low strength drinks already exist, and that the public conscience of moderation is increasingly responsible for less infirmities related to excessive alcohol consumption. Since the substance is still early in its development, only time may tell if it will revolutionise public health or fade into obscurity along many other so-called “visionary” projects that simply failed to be relevant enough to catch society’s attention. Meanwhile, moderation, sensibility and caution will have to do, as it has since the dawn of humanity.