Binge drinkers rejoice! Chinese scientists have come up with a way that will help to make alcohol healthier.
Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute for Nutritional Sciences in Shanghai claim to have identified a gene found in humans and animals – the PPP1r3G gene – that helps turn alcohol into glycogen rather than fat, thus making it healthy for the liver.
Following experiments on lab rats, they discovered that by strengthening the PPP1R3G gene, it could be used to turn alcohol to glycogen when in the rodents' livers, which in turn massively reduces the build-up of fat, according to the study published in the Journal of Lipid Research.
Lead scientist of the study professor Chen Yan is quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying: "Our findings shed new light on the issue of drinking. It can lead to the development of new medicines that can reduce the negative health effects of alcohol."
While storing fat can be harmful to the body, glycogen is much cleaner and stores the energy in the liver and muscles.
Yan continued: "We are on the verge of shifting from dirty to clean energy. It's time to make the same kind of change inside our body, too, with the shift from fat to glycogen.
"Fat is the most common way of storing energy in our body, but it is also the dirtiest. It releases lots of pollutant when it 'burns', just like coal," he added.
Yan said that the discovery could lead to alcohol being reformatted as pills that will boost the PPP1r3G gene and help the production of glycogen, which Yan says is a much healthier fuel for the body.