London: Drugs that could help people to live to 150 by slowing the ageing process may soon be available on drugstores. The drugs are synthetic versions of resveratrol, an organic chemical found in red wine and believed to have an anti-ageing effect by boosting activity of a protein called SIRT1.

Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes. Pharmaceutical firm GSK is now testing the drugs on patients with Type II diabetes and psoriasis, a serious skin condition, media reported.

David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard University, said ageing might not actually be an "irreversible affliction". He explained that increasing SIRT1 activity improved how well our cells operated, making them less sluggish. Previous experiments have shown that mice, bees and flies given the SIRT1-boosting compounds lived longer.

Writing in the journal Science, Prof Sinclair has claimed that they have performed experiments that showed these resveratrol-based compounds were having a direct effect on health.

Moreover, there have already been promising results in some trials with implications for cancer, cardiovascular disease and heart failure, Type II diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, fatty liver disease, cataracts, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, sleep disorders and inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis and colitis.

Though current trials look at how the compounds might help treat this age-related disease, Prof Sinclair believed that in time they would also be examined for their preventative effect. He believes that just as statins are used today to prevent heart disease and strokes, so these compounds could be used to slow a wide-range of diseases.

Prof Sinclair is a consultant and inventor on patents licensed to Sirtris, the GSK company running the trials.


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