When you create the world's first GMO probiotic for sale, you're bound to get generate buzz. And when it's designed to prevent day after drinking symptoms, you're going to get everyone buzzed.
Since launching in September, ZBiotics has gained a lot of media traction. They are the innovators behind the world's first GMO to aid with day after drinking symptoms; and it's been an honor to have played a part in launching their groundbreaking product.
"Drink like there’s tomorrow” that is the company slogan of ZBiotics, the synthetic biology company selling a probiotic supplement that prevents hangovers. With its recent launch on August 17th, the FDA compliant, patent-pending probiotic drink is the first genetically engineered probiotic to break down a toxic byproduct of alcohol called acetaldehyde, and it works.
I first met ZBiotics CEO and founder, Zack Abbott, at the Silicon Valley seed accelerator Y Combinator’s Demo Day in 2018. He recognized me from my weekly SynBioBeta newsletter and came up and introduced himself. With a big smile he told me that he was working on a probiotic hangover cure, and handed me a sample. As I was walking away I thought to myself, “That is the stupidest idea I have ever heard of — typical Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, solving first-world problems.”
Humans are terrified of bacteria. Throughout history, hostile microscopic organisms have swept through villages, cities and continents. The plague. Salmonella. It's estimated that cholera alone causes over 120,000 deaths per year. Deadly bacterial diseases continue to rack up an enormous body count.
It's easy to think of bacteria as our enemy.
But when a black-and-white box about the size of a book slid across my desk in early August, I was confronted by a different narrative. Inside the box, three tiny vials of murky liquid were neatly packed, resting face up. They were labeled "probiotic drink," and inside them were millions of genetically modified organisms which, I'd read, could help cure a hangover.
ZBiotics, the brainchild of microbiologist Zach Abbott, is a probiotic designed to ease the uncomfortable side effects of drinking. Simply throw back the shot-like beverage before your first round of the night, and your body will be better equipped to block some of alcohol's health-damaging effects at the microscopic level, the company says.
Y Combinator backed Zbiotics has spend two years developing what they’re billing as the world’s first genetically engineered probiotic. The startup’s initial product isn’t exactly world-changing but it might just save your day — given they’ve invented an elixir of ‘next day’ life: Aka a hangover cure.
Although you actually have to take it before — or, well, during — drinking rather than waiting until the moment of regretful misery when you wake up.
How have they done this? For their first product they’ve bioengineered probiotic bacteria to produce more of the enzyme that the body naturally uses to break down a toxic chemical byproduct of alcohol which is in turn responsible for people feeling awful after too many alcoholic drinks. So you could say they’re hoping to put probiotics on steroids. (NB: No actual steroids are involved, obviously.)