Magic Ingredient of Wine Under Study

British patients suffering from a rare disease will be among the first to try a new drug based on the "magic ingredient" in red wine, reports The Time of London.

A small trial in Newcastle upon Tyne will test resveratrol, a chemical that could lead to a whole family of new drugs with powerful effects against the diseases of ageing. The proprietary version of resveratrol, SRT501, is also under trial in India for use against diabetes and newer versions hundreds of times more powerful are in the pipeline.

The new drugs come from research showing that all species live longer on a calorie-restricted diet. So long as there is adequate nutrition, cutting calories by 40 per cent prolongs lifespan by 50 per cent or more – in yeast, mice, rats and every other species so far tested.

The 30 patients in the trial will be divided into two groups, with half given SRT501 and half a placebo. The aim is to test safety and to investigate, using magnetic resonance imaging and muscle biopsies, whether the mitochondria are multiplied. Patients' muscle strength and endurance will also be measured. "The animal evidence is quite compelling," says Professor Chinnery, Professor of Neurogenetics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and a specialist in mitochondrial diseases, who is running the trial. "I'm convinced it's worth a go."

There is a strong suspicion that mitochondria could also be involved in diabetes, a market worth more than $20 billion (almost £10 billion) a year.

Peter Elliott, senior vice-president for drug development at Sirtris which developed SRT501, says 'the company has gone to India for its first trials because the disease is exploding there and it wanted to test the drug in patients with new diagnoses who had not been treated with anything else.'

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