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Showing posts from December, 2010

new resveratrol revelations

What a year it has been for resveratrol, the polyphenol molecule from red wine. Last year at this time it was the toast of the town, having been credited with triggering a metabolic change leading to increased lifespan in experimental models, then catapulted into the limelight as a potential cancer cure with clinical trials under the auspices of pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline. Sales of resveratrol supplements were skyrocketing, with audacious claims about weight loss, brain power, and longevity, never mind that none of this had been proven in humans. But with the new year came new controversy. Two of Glaxo’s competitors, Pfizer and Amgen, published their own studies on resveratrol, concluding that the longevity effect was false, an artifact of the testing method. What few clinical trials there are in humans revealed that it is poorly absorbed and doesn’t last very long in the body anyway. Then in November Glaxo abruptly announced the suspension of the clinical trial and all further deve…

Believe in wine

Believing in Santa Claus may not be a scientifically tenable position, but it does come with benefits. As children reach the age where suspicions arise as to the veracity of the notion of a jolly visitor bearing gifts in the night, they come to understand that it is in their best interest to play along. In the case of wine, the science may be on more solid footing as to the benefits of moderate consumption, but what people believe does not always align with the facts here either. That is why it is encouraging to see recent survey data that people are finally acknowledging the connection between wine and health, even if there are still some areas of uncertainty.


London-based Mintel research recently released the results of a survey finding that some 85% of drinkers believe that wine in moderation is good for overall health, while wine drinkers hold that red wine is good for the heart. On the other hand, half of those attribute the same benefits to white wine. Given white wine’s relativ…

Glaxo pulls the plug on resveratrol drug: end of the line?

Resveratrol, the antioxidant molecule from red wine (along with miniscule amounts from some berries and the non-edible parts of the peanut plant), took the world by storm a few years back when it was announced that it could trigger a specific metabolic change associated with significant lifespan extension. Though the phenomenon was only found at first in some strains of yeast under certain conditions, it was believed to work by activating an enzyme system known as sirtuins, which in turn control the switching on and off of genes associated with longevity and a range of diseases of aging. The potential for resveratrol-based compounds caught the attention of pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, which acquired the rights to it for US $720 million in 2008. But this week Glaxo announced the suspension of all development of their product, known as SRT501, citing concerns about complications in a clinical trial for the blood cancer multiple myeloma. Many now wonder whether resveratrol has gone from…