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!