Fountain of Youth in a Pill?

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A new study published in Nature details the promising results of tests of new anti-aging compounds in mice. As the Boston Globe reports:

Scientists at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. say they have created a drug that mimics the ingredient in red wine linked to longevity and the cell structures that power endurance athletes like cycling champion Lance Armstrong.

The new molecule is 1,000 times more potent than the wine derivative, resveratrol, and could lead to solutions for diseases of aging, including cancer and diabetes, according to authors of a study in today's issue of the journal Nature.

Researchers tested about 500,000 molecules for abilities to activate the immune-system booster SIRT1, the enzyme credited with resveratrol's ability to extend lifespans 30 to 70 percent in organisms from yeast and worms to flies and mice.

Human testing on the most promising ones will begin next year, said David Sinclair, an author of the study.

Since aging is not considered a disease by the Food and Drug Administration, researchers would have to show that the compounds are effective treatments for conventional diseases, e.g., diabetes. However, once approved, physicians could prescribe them as treatments for other conditions.

Brandon Keim, over at Wired, asks "Who Owns the Fountain of Youth?" and offers some interesting speculation on how much a true anti-aging treatment would be worth.

Full Disclosure: I bought several hundred shares of Sirtris this past summer after I heard Sinclair make a presentation at the BioAgenda East conference. So far so good. However, I can't say the same thing for several other of my biomedical investments. If you're even thinking of looking to me for some kind of investment advice, may your Deity of choice have mercy on you!

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  1. Since aging is not considered a disease by the Food and Drug Administration

    Do coroners/MEs still use old age as cause of death? Anyone?

  2. Anyone?

    I do!

  3. The Fountain of Youth flows from my wang.

  4. Great.

    It looks like I’ll be able to hang around forever and really piss off those Gen Xs, Gen Ys, NexGens, Gentiles, GenWhatevers….

  5. I am not sure I get it. Are you saying that your wise (in hindsight) biomedical investments cloud your judgement on biomedical issues or that you unwise (in hindsight) biomedical investments cloud your judgement on biomedical issues?

    Or are you just trying to emphasize how crazee it is to think that investments can give rise to biased writing?

  6. It’s about time. Now where the hell is my flying car?

  7. Dave Woycechowsky:

    I think Ron is warning you that his investment track record isn’t going to get him a job at Standard & Poor’s.

  8. Call me crazy, but if aging is not classified by the FDA as a disease, then can’t the solution be marketed in the already wildly de-regulated “food/health supplement” industry as a, well, health supplement. Stuffing it right up their regulatory asses?

  9. then can’t the solution be marketed in the already wildly de-regulated “food/health supplement”

    Nope, health supplements are natural extracts, not synthetic chemicals. A man made substance must be proven safe and effective in order to be legal in the US, by prescription only. Any other alternative will result in another thalidomide.

  10. “…extend lifespans 30 to 70 percent in organisms from yeast and worms to flies and mice…” I didn’t read the article but I am curious about what kind of corresponding relationship existed between length of extension of lifespan and complexity of species. i.e. did the yeast get better or worse results than the mouse. I’m not a scientist so I apologize if that is a stupid question.

  11. We have a National Institute of Aging

    http://www.nia.nih.gov/

    I think it’s safe to say that a drug that reduces the incidence of death in a population would be approved.

  12. According to Wikipedia, Consumer Lab, an independent dietary
    supplement and over the counter products evaluation organization,
    published a report on 13 November 2007 on the popular resveratrol
    supplements. The organization reported that there exists a wide range
    in quality, dose, and price among the 13 resveratrol products
    evaluated. The actual amount of resveratrol contained in the
    different brands range from 2.2mg for Revatrol, which claimed to have
    400mg of “Red Wine Grape Complex”, to 500mg for Biotivia Transmax,
    which is consistent with the amount claimed on the product’s label.
    Prices per 100mg of resveratrol ranged from less than $.30 for
    products made by Biotivia, Jarrow, and Country life, to a high of
    $45.27 for the Revatrol brand. None of the products tested were found
    to have significant levels of heavy metals or other contaminants.

  13. Since aging is not considered a disease by the Food and Drug Administration

    With our ever expanding definitions of “dis-ease”, give it time…give it time.

  14. Is Bailey saying a drug has to be for a disease? Look up the statutory definition of “drug” and you’ll see that’s not the case. There are drugs marketed as contraceptives and antiperspirants. If it affects the structure or function of the body, it can be marketed as a drug.

  15. Oh, yeah, and weight loss pills, the products for which the definition of “drug” was widened in the FFDCA in 1938.

  16. I am not sure about wine but a friend of mine told me that he had started taking resveratrol based on a doctors suggestion about six weeks ago. My friend was experiencing chronic fatigue
    and was having trouble sleeping. I asked him how it was working out and he said that he was taking a type of resveratrol called biotivia transmax and that after two weeks the results were subtle but undeniable. He said that he had more energy during the day, was more alert throughout the day and was sleeping less but waking up more refreshed. So based on his experience I decided to give it a try. I have had similiar results after just one week. It is only recently that I have heard about it anti-aging benefits.
    There is something to this resveratrol, I have no idea if I will live longer but I can tell you that I am living better now.

  17. I am not sure about red wine but a friend of mine told me that he had started taking resveratrol based on a doctors suggestion about six weeks ago. My friend was experiencing chronic fatigue
    and was having trouble sleeping. I asked him how it was working out and he said that he was taking a type of resveratrol called biotivia transmax and that after two weeks the results were subtle but undeniable. He said that he had more energy during the day, was more alert throughout the day and was sleeping less but waking up more refreshed. So based on his experience I decided to give it a try. I have had similiar results after just one week. It is only recently that I have heard about it anti-aging benefits.
    There is something to this resveratrol, I have no idea if I will live longer but I can tell you that I am living better now.

  18. It is a stretch to assume that something that extends a mouse life-span will have the same effect on a human. Humans already live much longer than most animals so I’m guessing whatever “switch” was flipped is already flipped for us.

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