Drug Companies Rush to Harness Red Wine's Anti-Aging Properties

Researchers may be closer to finding the fountain of youth than Ponce de Leon ever was.

In a new study, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers found that red wine may be much more potent than thought in extending human lifespan, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Red wine's anti-aging properties have fueled the rapidly growing search for longevity drugs, and some scientists already are taking capsules of the wine's anti-aging ingredient, resveratrol, a natural compound believed to protect the heart against the effects of aging.

Others, however, believe better data on its safety and effectiveness is needed, according to the study, published this week in the journal Public Library of Science One.

But safety concerns haven't deterred drug makers.

On Monday, Sirtris, a startup founded in 2004 to develop drugs with the same effects as resveratrol, completed its sale to GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million, The Times reported.

In a separate study, Sirtris has been testing resveratrol and other drugs that activate sirtuin, a protein that may be able to control age-related disorders in humans and other organisms.

In April, the company reported that its formulation of resveratrol, called SRT501, reduced glucose levels in diabetic patients, according to The Times. It plans to start clinical trials of SRT501 soon.

Glaxo reportedly hopes to use Sirtris' research to manufacture drugs that could treat a host of degenerative disorders such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

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