Wednesday, 5 December 2007

A novel group of drugs that target a gene linked to longevity could provide a way to turn back the clock on the diseases of aging.

The compounds are 1,000 times more potent than Resveratrol, the molecule thought to underlie the health benefits of red wine, and have shown promise in treating rodent models of obesity and diabetes.

Human clinical trials to test the compounds in diabetes are slated to begin early next year, according to Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, based in Cambridge, MA, USA which developed the drugs.

As far as I'm aware, this is the first anti-aging molecule going into [testing in] man.

The new drugs target an enzyme called SIRT1, which belongs to a class of proteins known as sirtuins that have been shown to lengthen life span in lower organisms.

Last winter, scientists took the first step when they showed that mice given resveratrol, a molecule that activates SIRT1, stayed healthy when fed high-fat foods.

But there was a catch: mice were dosed with the human equivalent of more than 1,000 wine bottles' worth of the compound (hic-up), an amount not possible for humans to imbibe or take in pill form.

Now a team at Sirtris have identified a group of compounds that activate SIRT1 1,000 times more potently than Resveratrol does. According to findings published in the journal Nature, the compounds bind to the enzyme and dramatically increase its activity.

They also found that the drugs improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels in three rodent models: diet-induced obese mice, genetically obese mice, and a rat model of type 2 diabetes. Theoretically, this is a perfect drug,. Animals seem to have no change in weight, yet they have improved metabolic status.

In short, they live twice as long!

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