Alcohol will ‘disappear’ within a generation, claims scientistBy Lauren Eads
A neuropsycho pharmacologist, and the UK’s former chief drugs officer, believes traditional alcohol will disappear from Western societies “within a generation” and replaced with healthier alternatives, with a younger generation increasingly shunning booze.
Professor Nutt, who was sacked from his position as chairman of the UK government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in 2009 after he implied that taking ecstasy was less dangerous than riding a horse, hit the headlines in 2016 having developed Alcosynth – a synthetic alcohol that mimics the positive effects of alcohol without the health implications.
Nutt has already patented around 90 compounds used to produce Alcosynth, with his venture now operating under the name Alcarelle, which is hoping to raise £7m to bring the product to market, as reported by IB Times. The project is being co-ordinated by eight scientists, working to find “safer and healthier alternatives to alcohol which preserve the pleasurable aspects of alcohol while avoiding many of the negative side effects”.
Nutt is so confident in the potential application of alcosynth that he believes in another 10 to 20 years “western societies won’t drink alcohol except on rare occasions,” he said, speaking to IBM Times.
“Alcosynth will become the preferred drink, in the same way that I can see – almost within a decade now in the Western world – tobacco and cigarettes will disappear as they’re replaced by electronic cigarettes.”
Alcarelle has already identified a handful of synthetic compounds that can be used to produce alcosynth. Two of these compounds, made from a benzodiazepine derivative, which is in the Valium family, are already being tested for public consumption.
“It could well change culture,” added David Orren, managing director of Alcarelle. “If there’s less intoxication then there will be less violence on the street, less vomiting and less unpleasantness in our city centres. There are some people that want to get intoxicated so they can just fight or be ‘out of it’, but most people want to drink alcohol to enjoy the experience, though inevitably alcohol harms them.”
Nutt and Orren hope to bring Alcarelle first to the UK, EU, US and Canada, but have also high hopes for the Chinese market. Generally, Alcarelle products will be targeted at 18-25-year-olds, who are more health-conscious and drink less than older adults.
“Alcohol kills more than malaria, meningitis, tuberculosis and dengue fever put together,” said Nutt.
“Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could replace alcohol with something that led to almost no deaths? That would be one of the greatest public health developments in the history of the world.”
Earlier this month, BMI Research brought attention to a growing trend for healthy living and teetotalism, particularly among young adults, that is having a direct impact on the rise of low alcohol wine.
Young adults in particular are more likely to be teetotal than their older counterparts, with more than a quarter of 16 -24 year olds not drinking compared to a fifth of the broader population, according to the Office of National Statistics.
BMI Research expects wine consumption to drop by an average of 0.2% per annum from 2017 to 2021, compared to five years ago (2012-2016) when wine consumption grew by an average of 1.6% per annum.
This growing trend has led to a number of drinks companies getting a head start on a growing market for non-alcoholic beverages. Seedlip – a non-acoholic distilled ‘spirit’ – was launched in 2015 and last year attracted investment from Distill Ventures, a Diageo-funded spirits innovation group, with Diageo taking a minority stake in the business.