Beer lovers may soon have another reason to throw back a pint of their favorite brew, as researchers said they have taken one step closer to crafting a beer that can help fight disease. In data presented at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition for the American Chemical Society, scientists at the University of Idaho reported they are close to synthesizing healthful hops compounds in a lab. Previous research has linked hops, which give beer its bitter flavor, to halting bacterial growth and disease.
“When researchers extract healthful chemicals from hops, they first have to determine whether they have separated out the specific compounds they’re interested in,” project leader Kristopher Waynant, Ph.D., said, according to a news release. “But if you can figure out how to make these compounds from scratch, you know they are the right ones.”
Waynant and his team are studying specific compounds found in hops called humulones, which are alpha acids that have anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and lupulones, which are beta acids that are not as well understood.
According to the release, researchers want to harness the healthful activities of the two to potentially improve consumer’s health. To do so, researchers must work to confirm humulones and lupulones are the proper target by separating the acids with high-performance liquid chromatography. However, to analyze the results, they must be compared to analytical standards that do not exist. That’s why Waynant and researcher Lucas Sass are attempting to synthesize humulones and lupulones in a lab, according to the release.
“Unfortunately, the first few pathways I proposed were not the best or most efficient,” Waynant said in the news release. “But Lucas has gone through the literature and analyzed different ways to perform each of these steps to get the best results.”
“It’s been a lot of trial and error,” Sass said in the release. “But it’s so exciting when an approach finally works.”