Students brew biobeer

November 7, 2008 4:39:59 PM PST
What started out as a joke could get some college students a patent.

A group of Rice University students have created "Bio-Beer," a beer they proudly say is a "healthy" beer that could protect against heart disease.

It could be the first "healthy" beer in fact.

Healthier because the undergrads are genetically modifying it to add reserveratrol, the compound in red wine that's believed to protect against heart disease and cancer.

Co-inventor David Ouyang says, "What someone said was that we're giving the hwealth benefits of the wine and cheese crowd to the Joe Sixpacks of America."

The students are taking yeast, used in making beer, and geneticially changing it to add resveratrol.

And now, they are checking to see just how much of resveratrol they have in their brew.

Ouyang says, "If there's any increase it should be great because normally beer should have no, or very little resveratrol."

Bio-Beer isn't quite drinkable yet. It has too many unnedded things in it, like strands of DNA, chemicals, and common lab bacteria.

But by the end of the semester, they plan to have a drinkable version.

Co-inventor Sarah Duke says, "We're not encouraging people to go out and drink alcohol but we're encouraging someone who is already drinking to drink something a little healthier."

Even before the completed version is done, Taylor Stevenson says there's been a lot of interest in Bio-Beer.

"Is it read, what's it gonna taste like, where can I get it? We've had e-mails asking where they can get our yeast, and we've had to say - We're not there yet!"

So don't look for this "healthy" beer for a while.

But when you do, think of the Rice students in the lab, spending hours & hours laboring away at their creation.

By the way, they are taking their invention to Boston this weekend to compete in an international genetic science convention.

How can they lose?


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