Human Achievement of the (Fri)Day:Let’s have a BioBeer

Thank the calendars it’s Friday! Many of you have already left your jobs and are on the way to a pub to meet some friends for a few drinks, to have fun, and to relax. Well, imagine if your frosty mug of beer did more than plumping your ego and soothing your nerves…what if your brew of choice could extend and improve the quality of your life?

Imagine no more. In November 2008, scientists working at Rice University managed to create a yeast that can be used in the brewing process to create a beer with potentially age-fighting ability.

BioBeer, as it’s called, has three genes spliced into special brewer’s yeast that produce resveratrol, the chemical in red wine that is thought to protect against diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other age-related conditions.

Okay, it doesn’t quite meet the invented-in-2009 criteria, but it is just on the cusp…and so cool I had to bend the rules a little. Resveratrol is not only thought to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease, but it is also believed that it aids in weight loss.

Combine these developments with the recent news that the hops in beer is now thought to fight cancer and you have one powerful potion that could someday make the “beer versus wine” argument (at least in terms of which one is better for your health) obsolete.

Researchers at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg have discovered that beer contains a powerful molecule that helps protect against breast and prostate cancers.

Found in hops, the substance called xanthohumol blocks the excessive action of testosterone and oestrogen. It also helps to prevent the release of a protein called PSA which encourages the spread of prostate cancer.

So tonight, when you raise a glass, raise it for the scientists working hard to identify the factors underlying disease and age-issues and come up with nifty and tasty ways to solve these problems. Cheers and remember to enjoy this particular human achievement in moderation.