Despite its post-drink acidic effect on stomach, beer has always been under radar for many scientists and the latest finding is that it could be used in treating cancer as it contains hops, which taste bitter but give beer its unique taste.
Hops contain acid compunds known as humulones and lupulones (alpha and beta acids, respectively), which are found in the soft resin material of the female hop cone. Hops have been used in beer brewing for thousands of years. During wort boiling, in the beer brewing process, the alpha acids isomerize to isohumulones (cis and trans) which are the main bittering agents in beer, explains Kristopher Waynant of University of Idaho in US.
"Hop extracts (as well as isolated humulones and lupulones) have shown a wide variety of health benefits (I have attached a semi recent review). Many studies have shown that theyse compounds or extracts possess anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer activity (mostly in vitro), and COX-2 inhibition, in addition to their well-documented antibacterial properties," wrote Waynant in an exclusive email interview to India International Times.
"I am also aware of a company in Seattle (Kindex pharmaceuticals) that is using an isomerized humulone (isohumulone) in phase 2 murine models towards a diabetes drug," he said with a note of caution: "Just because a natural compound is biologically active, doesn’t mean it will be a great medicine."
Elaborating his findings, Waynant said, his research team is using known chemistries to start a library of humulones and lupulones to create a series of more biologically active compounds.
"We are interested in synthesizing the natural product (-)-humulone, but it has been made before (by Kindex) and is actually isolatable from the hop resins. We would like to extend these syntheses towards the other (smaller concentration) humulones, (-)-cohumulone and (-)-adhumulone as well as a variety of new humulone analogs. Adhumulone has a 2nd undetermined stereocenter that we hope to specify. In conjunction with the natural products, we are interested in developing our synthetic strategy as to see if we can efficiently develop a diverse (but small) library of humulone analogs that also lends towards understanding the scope of our synthetic strategy," he told India International Times.
However, Waynant was cautious when he said his project is still in its infancy and they are yet to produce a natual humulone or a new humulone derivative. "We hope to have humulones available for testing in the near future," he said and his final words are equally cautious: "We certainly do not suggest drinking beer as medicine."
His study was presentted at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.