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Benefits of Beer

Submitted by on November 3, 2008 – 2:42 PMNo Comment
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For years, scientists criticized beer for its lack of nutrition, addicting substance, and possible long term consequences of stroke and liver failure. However, researchers at Rice University may have found a way for beer to have benefits. They used genetic engineering to create resveratrol, a chemical in wine that’s been shown to reduce cancer and heart disease in lab animals.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound that some studies have found to have anti-inflammatory, anticancer and cardiovascular benefits for mice and other animals. While it’s still unclear if humans enjoy the same benefits, resveratrol is already sold as a health supplement.

“I have seen some studies where it’s been shown to activate the same proteins that are known to play a role in extending the life span of lab animals that are kept on low-calorie diets,” David Ouyang, Researcher and junior at Rice University, said.

Ouyang said the team is working with a strain of yeast that’s used commercially to make wheat beer. They got a sample of the yeast from Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company, and they are modifying it with two sets of genes. The first set allows the yeast to metabolize sugars and excrete an intermediate chemical that the second set can later convert into resveratrol.

Their “BioBeer,” will be entered in the world’s largest synthetic biology competition, International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, which will be held Nov. 8-9 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.