“The new drugs are called sirtuin activators, meaning that they activate an enzyme called sirtuin. The basic theory is that all or most species have an ancient strategy for riding out famines: switch resources from reproduction to tissue maintenance. A healthy diet but with 30 percent fewer calories than usual triggers this reaction in mice and is the one intervention that reliably increases their life span.
But most people cannot keep to a diet with a 30 percent cut in calories, so a drug that could activate the famine reflex might be highly desirable. Dr. Leonard Guarente, an M.I.T. biologist who founded the field of sirtuin biology, thinks the famine reflex is mediated through the sirtuin enzymes. Dr. Sinclair, his former student, discovered that sirtuins could be activated by drugs. The most potent activator that emerged from his screens was resveratrol, a natural substance found in red wine, though in amounts probably too low to be significant for health.
“The Sirtris drug being tested in diabetic patients is a special formulation of resveratrol that delivers a bloodstream dose five times as high as the chemical alone. This drug, called SRT501, has passed safety tests and, at least in small-scale trials, has reduced the patients’ glucose levels.
The other drug is a small synthetic chemical that is a thousand times as potent as resveratrol in activating sirtuin and can be given at a much smaller dose. Safety tests in people have just started, with no adverse effects so far….resveratrol has doubled muscular endurance, lowered the bad form of cholesterol, protected against various bad effects of a high-fat diet and suppressed colon cancer. New reports are confirming some of these benefits, but others are ambiguous or puzzling. “…. <More>
July 31, 2008 · 5:14 am