March 13, 2013: by Bill Sardi
…. mice fed a normal-calorie diet did not live longer, the initial experiment to show the primary gene target for resveratrol was flawed and a huge dose of this red wine molecule barely improved measurable health parameters among metabolic disease (diabetes) patients and induced kidney failure among terminal cancer patients, causing the sponsor of a resveratrol-based drug to halt all research and development.
But now resveratrol is getting a reprieve as researchers say the Sirtuin1 gene is in fact activated by resveratrol. But consumers shouldn’t develop a false hope that pharmaceutical companies are going to embrace an un-patentable molecule.
The derailed effort to launch a resveratrol longevity pill is said to be back on track now that its leading proponent David Sinclair PhD, along with a team of pharmaceutical researchers, have learned how to make molecules that will activate a particular survival gene — Sirtuin1. But single gene-targeted drugs have been met with failure and geneticists say there are 295 human longevity genes.
A bait-and-switch game is underway. The challenge is for Big Pharma to use the now popularized red wine-derived resveratrol molecule as a magnet to attract public attention in its efforts to develop the first so-called prescription anti-aging pill, all the while conducting research on the development of synthetic resveratrol look-alike molecules that will produce untold billions of dollars of profits. Who knows, maybe even Medicare will pay for it.
Meanwhile some consumers, believing they have no time to wait, are opting for WalMart-A-Trol pills in hopes they might produce similar effects.
David Sinclair PhD, the darling of the news media who has attempted to clear the air over scientific misunderstandings concerning the Sirtuin1 gene, points to successful unpublished human studies that he says Glaxo-Smith-Kline has performed using synthetic Sirtuin1-gene activators among patients with medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease
A 7-day human safety study of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals SRT2104 resveratrol-like drug, utilizing doses ranging from 30-3000 milligrams, was published in the January 2013 issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
When asked by an NPR reporter whether red wine would suffice, Sinclair said it would require about 100 glasses of red wine a day to obtain the amount of resveratrol used in laboratory experiments. Sinclair noted that a glass of aged red wine provides ~1 milligram of this red wine molecule.
That is a far cry from what Dr. Sinclair said on a CBS-TV 60-Minutes program aired in 2009 when he said 1000 bottles (not glasses) of red wine would be needed to re-produce beneficial effects produced in the laboratory.
There are many 100-milligram resveratrol dietary supplements on the market. But don’t count on off-the-shelf resveratrol pills delivering their labeled amount of resveratrol or even being biologically active. Upon analysis, a recent report said only 5 of 14 brands delivered their labeled amount and only 3 of 14 were biologically active.
News reports say these resveratrol look-alikes are 100 times stronger than a single glass of red wine. That should result in an itsy-bitsy 1-milligram sized pill.
To amplify the answer to the NPR reporter’s question about wine, part of that answer is that 3-to-5 glasses of dark red wine have been found to dramatically reduce mortality rates for coronary artery disease, but that is enough alcohol to reach the point of inebriation every day.
Furthermore scientific studies reveal that resveratrol trumps red wine in its ability to limit the area of damage caused by a heart attack. In order, from least to most effective, alcohol, white wine, red wine, resveratrol, Longevinex®, a propriety brand of resveratrol, protected heart tissue best during a heart attack.
What would such a pill cost? When they were first introduced, statin cholesterol-lowering drugs cost ~$5 a day ($1825/year), Viagra pills for erectile dysfunction $9-10 a day. So what can humanity expect a pill that promises to eradicate maybe 20 chronic diseases associated with aging would cost?
Most people would not likely be able to afford it, making it a longevity pill for elite wealthy individuals only. The gap between rich and poor is widening, and with it a life expectancy gap as well. Such a pill would only magnify the problem. Who gets the pill would become a massive social and political issue.
Whether insurance would pay for a pill that would help people live another 75 years would need to be determined. There is no conclusive way to prove a pill would help humans live longer other than a 99-year study, which is obviously impractical.
The life insurance industry quashed a scientific initiative for an anti-aging pill in the 1970s over fears people would not buy life insurance till later in life when they were no longer insurable. So anticipate many roadblocks before a proven longevity pill materializes.
Does anyone believe Big Pharma proposes to bring a pill to market pill that may address twenty or more chronic diseases of aging, as if it really wants to put itself out of business?
For inquisitive longevity seekers, two comprehensive reports have been written by this author concerning the roadblocks to successfully marketing an anti-aging pill (How The World Got Lost On The Road To An Anti-Aging Pill and The Case For Resveratrol ).