Why does science have to continually move in and poke its nose where Nature‘s already got things covered?
A number of recent studies have shown that the people who eat the fewest daily calories tend to live the longest. Theories assume that, less food means less of a tax on your body to digest it, resulting in fewer free radicals and fewer toxins. Plus, the resultant weight loss puts less stress on the heart, bones and joints.
This type of extreme low-calorie eating habit - one that is roughly 30 percent below the average - puts the body into "famine" mode. Essentially, the body concentrates the majority of its energy on self-preservation.
It is this switching of gears that scientists believe may account for the resultant increase in longevity. And taking this theory one step farther, scientists at Harvard Medical School think they have isolated the enzyme, called sirtuin, that acts as the switch.
So, researchers went looking for substances that could increase production of sirtuin without the 30 percent drop in calorie intake typically required to produce it. In screening various substances, one antioxidant superstar came out on top, resveratrol.
For the uninitiated, resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant substance found in red wine. Its popularity was sparked when a mouse study showed that resveratrol maintained health and extended the lifespan of obese and sedentary mice.
In attempts to further their theories on longevity, scientists have been doing experiments with a concentrated form of resveratrol that delivers five times the strength of "regular" resveratrol, and they‘re calling it SRT501.
Their initial experiments have been so successful that they‘ve caught the attention of Pharma Big Dog, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who has since bought the rights to the product.
Here‘s where it gets my ire up...
GSK could put this concentrated form of resveratrol on the market right away, sell it as the nutritional supplement that it is and compete with the other natural health companies out there who‘re already selling it.
Or, they can reach into their deep wallets, seek an FDA approval and have it classified as a drug. In which case not only can they charge whatever they want for it, but they would likely own all rights to health claims regarding resveratrol as well.
A no brainer of a choice for GSK.
The only potentially saving grace in this situation, is that the FDA doesn‘t recognize "longevity extenders" as a class of drug. So, in order to make this plan work, they will have to tie SRT501 to the treatment or prevention of a recognized disease. Otherwise, they have no basis for seeking an approval.
No approval means no money, so GSK has moved on to plan B. They‘ve begun research on SRT501‘s effects on type II diabetes.
Will it work? That‘s a good question. But if history has proven anything, when it comes to Big Pharma, you can finagle a study to confirm just about any theory if you spend enough money on it.
In the mean time, whether you‘re already taking resveratrol or you‘ve been thinking about giving it a try, it‘s probably a good time to stock up. It might not be too long before this inexpensive natural wonder becomes a hundred-dollar-a-month prescription drug!