Diabetes drug may fight aging, too.

January 30, 2008 7:35:19 AM PST
Search for anti-aging pill could help diabetics too

A drug now under development is showing promise against Type 2 diabetes.

But it may have an even bigger benefit . It could be the first anti-aging drug.

The capsules capture an enhanced version of a compound found in red wine, called resveratrol.

Resveratrol turns on a gene that helps control the diseases of aging, such as diabetes.

There are resveratrol compounds at supplement stores now, but scientists say they are not strong enough to have any effect.

A team at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals outside Boston has shown its version, which is much more powerful, can control diabetes in animals, and is now testing it in humans.

Christoph Westphal, CEO, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, says, "This is not science fiction anymore. We are actually talking about real drug candidates in human studies targeting diseases of aging by targeting the genes that control the aging process."

Sirtris thinks this drug may be on the market in 5 to 7 years.

But the best is yet to come - the company has just discovered other molecules that are a thousand times more potent.

"So these are the kind of things that you could imagine taking in one small pill once a day," says Westphal.

Longevity researchers say that though they have come to realize aging as a host of diseases related to failing metabolism, the Food and Drug Administration doesn't recognize aging itself as a disease. So, drugs must be developed to address one component disease at a time.

Westphal says the compounds Sirtris is working on could have applications for a variety of those ills, including cancer and Alzheimer's.