Researchers claim resveratrol taken in pill form could soon be available to cure and prevent diseases linked to aging, including diabetes type 1, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, in findings released March 8. Now scientists understand how it works and are proceeding with developing anti-aging, disease fighting resveratrol in a potent pill form that you cannot get from a glass of wine.
The red wine ingredient in pill form is being developed by David Sinclair, PhD an Australian biologist and his colleagues that contains the resveratrol equivalent of 100 glasses of wine.
Resveratrol has been the subject of many studies claiming anti-aging, disease fighting benefits, but findings have been inconclusive.
How resveratrol activates natural defenses previously unknown
Dr. Sinclair, who is on the faculties of Harvard medical School and the University of New South Wales, published findings in the journal Nature explaining how resveratrol turns on enzymes that activate “… our body’s genetic defenses against aging and diseases.”
The red wine ingredient is an antioxidant and could fight disease because it turns on sirtuin proteins that are known to defend the body against age-related diseases, doing much more than scavenging free radicals.
Past studies showed the sirtuin protein could only be turned on in the presence of a fluorescent chemical known as fluorophore. Sinclair has since proven resveratrol can work without the chemical, explaining fluorophore mimicked “greasy” amino acids that naturally occur in the body.
The proteins have been studied and shown to extend the lifespan of mammals. They also play a role in aging, cancer and metabolic diseases.
The researchers tested 117 drugs, all of which work on a single enzyme through different processes.
Resveratrol drugs could prevent 20 diseases
Eventually, the drugs will be developed to treat one disease, “…but unlike drugs of today, they would prevent 20 others”, Sinclair said in a press release.
Other diseases that the drugs could target include:
• Cardiovascular disease and cardiac failure
• Type 2 diabetes
• Parkinson’s diseases
• Fatty liver disease
• Muscle wasting
• Sleep disorders
• Inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, arthritis and IBS or colitis
The sirtuin protein being targeted is SIRT1. There are 7 Sirt-s that have various unknown molecular functions related to cell metabolism that researchers are currently studying.
SIRT1 can be switched on naturally with exercise and calorie restriction, the author explains, but the effect can be boosted with activators. The most common natural compound that stimulates SIRT1 is resveratrol.
Sinclair, who is a geneticist with the Department of Pharmacology at UNSW, says there has never been a pharmaceutical drug that can accelerate the action of an enzyme.
The technology to develop the pill was sold to the drug company GlaxoSmithKline in 2008 for $720 million. The company has developed 4000 synthetic SIRT1 activators, three of which are in human clinical trials.
The pharmaceutical company Sirtris halted trials on their formulation of resveratrol in 2011, saying the compound was difficult to maintain at a given level in the bloodstream. George Vlasuk, Sirtris’s chief executive, said in an interview, resveratrol has different effects at different doses and can even switch SIRT1 off.
Sinclair, a co-found of Sirtris, takes resveratrol himself and has maintained confidence in the beneficial effects for halting diseases related to aging.
Healthy people might live to be 150 with resveratrol breakthrough
Professor Sinclair anticipates the first drug to be marketed will be for diabetes.
“We’re finding that ageing isn't the irreversible affliction that we thought it was,” Sinclair says. “Some of us could live to 150, but we won’t get there without more research.”
The researcher says there is also promise that resveratrol can help people who are already healthy.
In their studies, resveratrol extended the lifespan of mice by 15 percent. The rodents were able to run twice as far as slim mice, even though they were overweight.
Sinclair maintains belief that the red wine ingredient can provide a holistic approach to extend life and treat diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes within 5 years.