Biotechs pursue anti-aging treatments

In the 1930s scientists discovered that restricting calorie intake by a third could extend life spans by 30 to 40 percent. But given that few people are able to withstand such a rigorous diet, it was not explored as a real possibility for extending life. But now a number of biotechs and venture capitalists are involved in efforts to recreate the effects of a restricted calorie diet in pill form. But rather than pursuing an anti-aging indication--the FDA doesn’t recognize aging as a disease in need of a cure--scientists seek to discover how new treatments can delay the effects of aging, leading to more active years toward the end of life. For instance, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals is pinning its hopes on resveratrol, a substance in red wine which appears to effect the body much in the same way calorie restriction does. Other companies developing therapies based on calorie restriction include Elixir Pharmaceuticals, BioMarker Pharmaceuticals and LifeGen Technologies. “Some researchers believe antiaging drugs could also improve health in late life--rather than prolong misery--letting people stay in relatively good shape until a swift demise.” Reseachers hope that by delaying the onset of aging, patients will be able to avoid diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and diabetes. Report (WSJ sub. req.)

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