Scientists are Developing Disease-Fighting Beer…in the Lab

beer dna
Science & Medicine

Beer is loaded with carbohydrates that can make you fat – everyone knows this. We even have a name for the distended stomachs of heavy beer drinkers: “beer bellies.” It’s the sort of beverage that the weight-conscious person or diabetic individual either avoids entirely or enjoys only once in a great while.

But what if a brewsky could fight disease?

Actually, beer has numerous health benefits, but scientists are working to emphasize the healthful properties in the alcoholic beverage that offer those benefits.

Researchers at the University of Idaho say they’re close to synthesizing a type of “healthy beer” in the lab. They presented their findings at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition for the American Chemical Society. Previous research has linked hops to stopping bacterial growth and disease. [1]

Hops has been used throughout history to treat everything from sleeping problems to hair loss and anxiety. Studies show that the antioxidants in hops may prevent oxidative stress and cognitive decline. A study published in 2014 suggested that a flavonoid supplement found in hops could boost cognitive function. [2]

Read: Study Finds Beer Compound to Protect the Brain, Prevent Alzheimer’s

Project leader Kristopher Waynant, Ph.D., said of the project in a news release:

“When researchers extract healthful chemicals from hops, they first have to determine whether they have separated out the specific compounds they’re interested in. But if you can figure out how to make these compounds from scratch, you know they are the right ones.”

Those compounds are called “humulones” – alpha acids that contain anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as “lupulones,” which are beta acids that have similar properties.

Source: Organic Facts
Source: Organic Facts

The scientists want to confirm that humulones and lupulones are the proper target by separating the acids using high-performance liquid chromatography. In order to accomplish this, the team must compare the compounds to analytical standards that don’t exist. So Waynant and researcher Lucas Sass are working on a perfecting a technique that will allow scientists to synthesize a set of humulones and lupulones in the lab. [3]

Waynant said in the news release:

“Unfortunately, the first few pathways I proposed were not the best or most efficient. But Lucas has gone through the literature and analyzed different ways to perform each of these steps to get the best results.”

Said Sass in the same press release:

“It’s been a lot of trial and error. But it’s so exciting when an approach finally works.”

Waynant, Sass, and their colleagues plan to collaborate with biologists and medical researchers to develop active agents for pharmaceuticals to treat cancers or inflammatory diseases from humulones and lupulones.


[1] Fox News

[2] Medical Daily

[3] Newsmax

Organic Facts