Scientists have discovered a potential health benefit of hops.

Writing in the American Chemical Society’s journal, they reported that a compound from hops could protect brain cells from damage and potentially slow the development of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Jianguo Fang and his colleagues, supported by funding from Lanzhou University and the Natural Science Foundation of Gansu Province,noted mounting evidence that oxidative damage to neuronal cells contributes to the development of diseases that originate in the brain. If scientists could find a way to guard these cells from this type of damage, they might be able to help prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

One compound found in hops, called xanthohumol, has attracted the attention of researchers for its potential benefits, including antioxidation, cardiovascular protection and anticancer properties. The team decided to test xanthohumol’s effects on brain cells and, in laboratory tests,the researchers found that the compound could protect neuronal cells and potentially help slow the development of brain disorders.

Rice work 

Scientists have developed a new, simple way to cook rice that could cut the number of calories absorbed by the body by more than half, potentially reducing obesity rates. Team leader Sudhair A.James, who is at the College of Chemical Sciences, Colombo, Sri Lanka, said:“We discovered that increasing rice resistant starch concentrations was a novel way to approach the problem. If the best rice variety is processed, it might reduce the calories by about 50-60 per cent.”

New fuel 

Researchers in America have come up with an aviation fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The breakthrough has come from the Energy Biosciences Institute, a partnership led by the University of California Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and BP. Alexis Bell, a chemical engineer at Berkeley Lab, said:“Biofuel solutions, such as farnesane,mixed directly with petroleum jet fuel have been tested but offer only modest greenhouse gas reduction benefits. Ours is the first process to generate true drop-in aviation biofuels.”

New pesticide 

AMVAC Chemical Corporation, a business unit of American Vanguard Corporation,has introduced AUTILUS™ turf fungicide,a new product that can be used to control anthracnose on golf courses.Anthracnose is destructive to golf course turf, developing as foliar blight or basal rot and has, over the years, developed resistance to a number of fungicides.