The Loh Down On Science

Medicinal Draft

And, now, would you believe . . . Beer as medicine?  

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet University of Washington chemist Werner Kaminsky.  He and colleagues have figured out the exact molecular structure of humulones.  Thank goodness!  PS . . . what are humulones?

Humulones are bitter substances derived from hops that make beer taste like, well, beer. But humulones may also help fight diabetes, cancer, and inflammation. Maybe even help with weight loss! 

The team first converted humulones to salt crystals. They then used a process called X-ray crystallography to determine the crystals' structure.

While humulones start as a ring of six carbon atoms, brewing rearranges the atoms into a ring of just five carbons. Plus two side groups of atoms that can grab onto the ring in any of four different ways. 

The final arrangement determines how they'll react with other substances. If paired correctly, humulone complexes could be added to new pharmaceuticals.

Of course, the researchers say, chugging sixer after sixer isn’t recommended. Or at least not for health or weight loss purposes.  Yet.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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