Extra healthy beer? We’ll drink to that!
A group of college students at Rice University are taking their favorite pastime and turning it into a research project. Their passion? Beer. Their project? Inventing a brew that contains resveratrol, a chemical present in wine that lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Sounds like our kind of science fair project, so here is the science portion of this broadcast:
Instead of adding hops, they’re adding genes, so to speak. Two sets of genes are in play here: the first allows the yeast to metabolize sugars and excrete an intermediate chemical. The second converts that chemical into the secret ingredient, resveratrol. The team has created a strain of yeast that can complete the latter conversion, but they are still working on genetically modifying the former. They hope to have the entire chemical reaction by the time the competition rolls around, but say that even if they don’t, they can still enter with data from other experiments and computer models to back them up. They also plan to brew their first test batches before heading north in November.
Now for the bad news. Unless they work out all the kinks and get FDA approval, this brew won’t be available at your favorite watering hole any time soon. We’re cheering for science to win this round.