A London-based company is perfecting a synthetic alcohol that it claims will deliver the pleasurable side effects of the drug without the negatives. Getty Images
If non-alcoholic versions of alcoholic beverages just aren’t cutting it for you, help may be on the way soon.
It is according to a recent one The Wall Street Journal Article, which describes the work of GABA Labs. The London-based company is perfecting a synthetic alcohol called Alcarelle, which it claims will deliver the pleasurable side effects of the drug without the negatives.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA, is a neurotransmitter that slows down the brain by blocking certain signals, thus producing a calming effect. When alcohol reaches the brain, it binds to GABA receptors and mimics its effect, relaxing people and giving them a warm feeling. But it also results in other neurotransmitters producing unwanted side effects, such as difficulty thinking and moving, Dr. David Nutt, chief scientific officer at GABA Labs, WSJ.
Alcarelle targets only GABA receptors in the brain, enabling the release of dopamine and serotonin and nothing else, Nutt maintains. It is tasteless and designed to be added to non-alcoholic beverages, although it can be mixed with real alcohol.
“It feels like what a glass of wine feels like,” he told the paper. “It feels relaxing. It makes you a little more talkative, a little more socially engaged with people.”
GABA Labs is working to raise about $10 million and aims to complete US food safety testing by mid-2026, before launching in European markets, WSJ reports. Other companies are working to develop drugs that reduce alcohol cravings and speed recovery from hangovers.
The number of Americans who drink appears to be declining. In the United States, alcohol consumption peaked in 1977, with 71% saying they drank at least occasionally, according to Gallup. In 2021, only 63% of Americans said they drank. Gen Z – those born from 1997 onwards – are reportedly drank less than Millennials did. And the number of Americans not in college who say they abstain from alcohol rose 6% to 30% in 2018, according to a 2020 report from the University of Michigan and Texas State University.
Potential health effects of drinking, according to the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, include irregular heartbeat, stretching of the heart muscle, stroke, high blood pressure, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, weakening of the immune system, and pancreatitis. What’s more, alcohol appears to cause several types of cancerincluding head and beak, esophageal, liver, breast and colorectal.