Hang onto your corkscrews, ladies and gentlemen, because researchers at the University of Illinois have revealed the distinct possibility that in the near future, wine drinkers will be on the receiving end of a wine that promises no more hangovers.
Thanks to a process the scientists have dubbed a “genome knife,” which allows for the genetic modification of yeast used in beers, wine, and other fermented items, such as bread, the genetic modification of yeast is now possible. Before this process was developed, genetically engineering yeast proved difficult due to its lack of auxotrophic markers — gene mutations that make it impossible to synthesize certain compounds that are necessary for growth, forcing the organism to search for its lacking compounds in its environment. However, the development of the “knife” allows scientists to generate synthetic auxotrophic markers, which can then be manipulated to change the genetic make-up of the yeast.
In plain English: Geniuses at the University of Illinois tinkered with the yeast used in vino and realized they can make everyone’s dream come true by taking away the ingredient that causes hangovers.
Yong-Su Jin, a University of Illinois associate professor of microbial genomics, principal investigator in the Energy Biosciences Institute, and one of the researchers involved in the study, explained it more thoroughly in a press release on the breakthrough.
“Fermented foods — such as beer, wine, and bread–are made with polyploid strains of yeast, which means they contain multiple copies of genes in the genome. Until now, it’s been very difficult to do genetic engineering in polyploid strains because if you altered a gene in one copy of the genome, an unaltered copy would correct the one that had been changed.”
Essentially, the genome knife can cut across the target gene until each instance of the gene in the genome has been sliced.
But where do the hangovers come in? Some hangover symptoms are caused by improper malolactic fermentation, which is the process of converting the sour taste of malic acid to the less tart lactic acid. The genome knife will allow winemakers to enhance malolactic fermentation, thus eliminating the toxic byproducts that cause hangovers. Of course, hangovers are caused by many different factors, so removing the hangover-causing toxins in wine won’t be 100 percent effective at ensuring no hangovers if you decide to down three bottles of wine by yourself in an hour. However, it’ll go a long way to removing at least some of the discomfort hangovers cause.
Don’t go running to your liquor store to buy up all the wine just yet, however, as the process is still in development. But if you happen to be imbibing in the near future, raise your glass to the scientists over at the University of Illinois, who are working hard to bring you the promise of no more hangovers soon enough.
[Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]