National Beer Day: Scientists Close to Creating Hangover-Free Alcohol

Jonathan Schoenfeld
April 7, 2015

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(ANTIMEDIA) Finally! The ability to drink alcohol without having to worry about its harsh consequences of the next day’s hangover is closer to becoming a reality. Scientists at the University of Illinois have engineered a “jailbreak” strain of yeast that could greatly increase health benefits while also reducing the unpleasant aftereffects such as headaches.

Using a recently developed piece of technology called a “genome knife,” scientists are able to make precise cuts into genes across multiple copies of the targeted gene. Up until this invention, “jailbreaking” yeast was complicated because when a single targeted gene was altered, the unaltered copies would correct the one that had been changed.

The use of the “genome knife” can revolutionize not only the alcohol industry, but also the food industry and anything else that uses a fermentation process. Yong-Su Jin, a U of I associate professor of microbial genomics and principal investigator in the Energy Biosciences Institute states that:

The possibilities for improved nutritive value in foods are staggering. Wine, for instance, contains the healthful component resveratrol. With engineered yeast, we could increase the amount of resveratrol in a variety of wine by 10 times or more. But we could also add metabolic pathways to introduce bioactive compounds from other foods, such as ginseng, into the wine yeast. Or we could put resveratrol-producing pathways into yeast strains used for beer, kefir, cheese, kimchee, or pickles–any food that uses yeast fermentation in its production.

Not only can scientists improve the health benefits of fermented products, but they can also improve the quality of the products as well. Scientists can also enhance secondary the fermentation process that’s associated with wine quality by cloning the enzyme responsible for malolactic fermentation. Instead of waiting years to achieve the benefits of an aged bottle of wine, consumers would be able to reap the same benefits with a new bottle.

Until the science is mastered, we’re left to suffer the effects of hangovers. At least now, we know there are some very smart people in Illinois working on solving one of our biggest problems to date. Cheers to that!


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