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Magic Pill to Eliminate Disease and Add Years to Life

Jul 24, 2007

A molecular compound found in red wine called resveratrol extends the life span of mice by up to 24 percent and up to 59 percent in other animals like flies and fish.

David Sinclair, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School and his colleagues are developing a pill to prevent age-related diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, and add years to a person’s life.

Sinclair who discovered the compound has since co-founded a company called Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. Sirtris researchers are beginning to run studies on a formulation of resveratrol in people with diabetes, with the goal to lower blood glucose levels.

Dr. Sinclair stated that, modern medicine is based on treating one disease at a time. But what drugs haven’t done is target the natural defense mechanisms of our bodies. He explained, "The body is a pretty clever and complex organism. It’s not the molecules themselves that are miraculous. It’s the genes that have evolved to protect the body."

The premise behind a formulation of resveratrol is that it activates a gene called SIRT-1, which may regulate lifespan by being activated by caloric restriction. Mice live longer when they have 30 percent to 40 percent fewer calories than they would normally. Resveratrol may mimic caloric restriction.

Dr. Sinclair said he doesn’t believe humans will ever live hundreds of years, but with something like resveratrol, we could add on another decade. He said, "The best way to put it is that this is one of the best shots to have a big impact on medicine."



Food Cravings For Calories Not Carbs, Says Obesity-Related Study: People with food cravings want calories, not carbohydrates, says a news study from the US that may have implications for obesity. “These findings suggest,” says  author Susan Roberts, PhD, director of the USDA HNRCA’s Energy Metabolism Laboratory. “That cravings are for calories, not carbohydrate, as is widely assumed. What is commonly called carbohydrate addiction should probably be relabeled as calorie addiction.”  See this week’s Item #12