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Molecule That Gives Beer Its Hoppy Bite Could Also Help Treat Diabetes

Beer is wonderful and good for you — I’ve always known this, and I’ve said it regularly and loudly to anyone who will listen. Also, to people who would rather not listen. Now, science offers the latest proof that beer is medicine. Or rather that the structure of some of the molecules that make up beer and give hops it’s bitter bite, could be, in moderation and after years of careful research, used to offer treatments for diabetes. If the research pans out, it could mean a brand new breeds of drugs. If it doesn’t, that’s a shame, but we could still finally develop the world’s first truly perfect IPA. While that outcome is certainly less good than new lifesaving drugs, I would humbly submit that that doesn’t make it “not good.”

New research from the University of Washington suggests that the team’s work may have uncovered one of the factors behind occasional studies that suggest beer can have a healthy impact on people suffering from diabetes and other conditions like obesity. The team used a technique known as X-ray crystallography to study the structure of molecules known as humulones, which are produced by hops during the brewing process, and give beer some of its bitter kick. In the course of the study, they took note of the chirality, or “handedness,” of the different varieties of humulone molecules.

Molecules with different handed structures have the same properties, but pair with other chemicals in different ways, and better understanding the handedness of these different molecules could offer researchers clues on how to pair them with other chemicals to make drugs for diabetes and even cancer medications. The paper, which appears this month in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, is quick to point out that though “excessive beer consumption cannot be recommended to propagate good health, isolated humulones and their derivatives can be prescribed with documented health benefits.” Way to bring a party down, guys.

(via Eurekalert, image via flickr)

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