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Beer Waste May Offer Sustainable Solution for Osteoporosis

on 12/06/14 at 9:33 am

Booze News

imagesWhile beer-brewing waste sounds useless, it might offer a cheaper, more sustainable solution for osteoporosis. 

All that sludge at the bottom of the beer barrel might be useful for more than just marmite. Recent research suggests that a byproduct of the brewing process, known as beer bagasse, could help regenerate bone tissue for people who suffer from severe fractures or osteoporosis, a disease that results in brittle bones and afflicts more than 50 million people worldwide.

Scientists typically grow immature bone cells called osteoblasts on prosthetics, bone grafts and dental implants coated with synthetic calcium phosphate, whose chemical composition closely resembles bone. The problem is that these coatings, or scaffolds, are often made from toxic, non-renewable materials and can cost … about $92,000 per pound.

But bagasse is organic — essentially malted grains, after they’ve been used for making beer — and costs only about $54 per ton. Although it’s currently used for animal feed, scientists at the Technical University of Madrid and the Spanish National Research Council think the residue might also offer a cheaper, more sustainable alternative to conventional synthetic scaffolds, according to tests of a scaffold made from beer bagasse, described in the Royal Society of Chemistry in January.