Pharmachem strikes deal to develop more hop-based ingredients

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Prostate cancer

Pharmachem is teaming up with John I Haas (JIH) to develop more
extracts and derivatives from hops for use in supplements in the US

The two companies have worked together in the past, collaborating over the introduction of a proprietary, standardized extract of hops to combat pain caused by inflammation, called Perluxan.

But according to Pharmachem, research has indicated that hops derivatives could be used for a variety of other health benefits, including the inhibition of bone loss, as antioxidants, and in management of glucose levels.

"The goal of the collaboration is to advance the science, manufacture, and consumer awareness of hops as ingredinets for medicinal use," said Pharmachem business developmenet manager Gregory Bonfilio.

Under the terms of the agreement JIH, said to be the largest US grower and producer of hops and hop products, will supply Pharmachem with standardized raw materials.

Pharmachem, for its part, will provide the technical expertise and processing services to develop delivery forms "with unique characteristics and stability profiles," said Bonfilio.

It will also occupy itself with promoting and branding specialty hop products for nutraceuticals.

Both companies have pledged to shate scientific resources and intellectual property related to the arrangement, and to sponsor clinical trials to support new and existing applications.

Hops, from the flower of humulus lupulus, have a long history of use in herbal medicine but are best known as a flavouring and stability agent in beer.

Recent research into the nutritional properties of hops include a study published in the journal Cancer Letters (doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2006.02. 015) last year, which investigated the effects of the flavonoid xanthohumol extracted from hops (2.5 to 20 micromole doses) on the BPH-1 and PC3 cell lines as models for benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer.

Xanthohumol's anti-cancer capacity was discovered in the mid 1990s by a team of researchers at Oregon State University.

Although some brewers are now marketing products enriched in the compound, such as Germany's Xan, there is skepticism that beer can provide enough of the antioxidant to have much of an effect.

This suggests that standardized extracts in supplements could be a good way of delivering the benefits to people, but its success in the market seems dependent on disassociation with beer-drinking.

Another recent study, published in the journal International Immunopharmacology (Vol. 6, pp. 390-395) studied the effects of different beer extracts, including light beer, wheat beer, and non-alcoholic beer, on the production of neopterin (a marker for inflammation) and levels of tryptophan (the hormone - low levels are associated with more inflammation).

The researchers reported benefits, but stressed that their findings should not be understood as an encouragement to drink alcohol.

Rather, they suggested that beer extracts could prove helpful.

"Humulone and isohumulone, the bitter substances derived from hops, may be of particular importance for the effects induced in our in vitro system," they wrote.

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