San Francisco biotech startup claims to have created drink that could prevent hangovers

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Scientists in a San Francisco lab are busy genetically modifying bacteria to improve your life.

"We've made something that breaks down one of these toxic byproducts of drinking alcohol, called acetaldehyde," said Zack Abbott, the CEO and co-founder of ZBiotics.

Abbott has a PhD in microbiology and immunology and decided he wanted to create a product that people could engage with in their everyday lives.

"I really was excited by the power of microbes and all the amazing things they could do for you."

Abbott says his newly launched elixir-- the first-ever GMO probiotic-- will prevent some of the next day misery after drinking.

"You can take this product and decide for yourself if you perceive a benefit. And if you do, if you wake up the next day and you feel good, then you've had a positive experience with genetic engineering."

So what is genetic modification?

Put simply, whether you're talking about agriculture or probiotics, it's when you take a piece of DNA from one cell, and physically change it so that it integrates with a different strand of DNA, to ultimately create a cell with a new trait.

"I think it's just weird to have things that are artificially created being put into your body," said Alexis Lucio, who lives in San Francisco.

Lucio is anti-GMO and says she would not take ZBiotics. "I'm super skeptical, because oftentimes we never have enough research, beyond longitudinal studies, and then 50 years later you learn that it wasn't good for you."

"I would gladly pay $5 to $9 to not be hungover," said Greg Angel, who lives in Daly City.

For Angel, the cost of Zbiotics, currently on the market for $9 to $12 a dose, is more of an issue than how the product was made.

"If it was just a matter of relieving my hangover, I would probably be on board, GMO or not."

As for the future, Abbott hopes to eventually engineer probiotics to help people better absorb nutrients and to protect people from environmental toxins, disease, and inflammation.

ZBiotics is FDA compliant for safety but is not FDA approved. ZBiotics is not a medical product and has not gone through clinical trials.
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