Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hoping Two Sirtris Drugs Carry a Side Effect - Longer Life

Hoping Two Drugs Carry a Side Effect - Longer Life - NYTimes.com:
2008.07.22
"...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. The mice seem to live longer because they are somehow protected from the usual diseases that kill them...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...The hope is that activating sirtuins in people would, like a calorically restricted diet in mice, avert degenerative diseases of aging like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. There is no Food and Drug Administration category for longevity drugs, so if the company is to submit a drug for approval, it needs to be for a specific disease...Dr. Christoph Westphal, the chief executive of Sirtris, said of the potential of the drugs, “I think that if we are right, this could extend life span by 5 or 10 percent.”...Resveratrol seems to exert many influences on the body, some of which are not exerted through sirtuin. “None of us should be na├»ve enough to think resveratrol won’t have multiple effects, including some you don’t want,” Dr. Vallance said...According to a study published on July 3 in the journal Cell Metabolism by Dr. Sinclair and Dr. Rafael de Cabo of the National Institute on Aging, resveratrol given to aging mice reduced their cataracts, strengthened their bones, improved coordination and enhanced their health in several other ways. Yet despite their better health, the mice lived no longer than usual..."

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