Glaxo spurns new research raising doubts about resveratrol

Over the past few years resveratrol has emerged as one of the most closely-tracked development programs in biotechnology. GlaxoSmithKline paid $720 million to buy Sirtris Pharmaceuticals back in 2007 after Harvard scientist David Sinclair wowed the research community with the potential anti-aging effects of the therapy. And now a team of scientists at Pfizer has published new research that Forbes writer Matthew Herper claims casts considerable doubts on resveratrol's potential.

The drug is intended to spur SIRT1, an enzyme which plays a central role in aging. But, writes Herper, the Pfizer scientists say that neither resveratrol nor other Sirtris therapies even hit their target. And the Pfizer study builds on a similar conclusion reached by an Amgen team last year. Derek Lowe, who writes In the Pipeline, concludes that it is "almost certainly the case" that there are problems with the drug.

Rubbish, responds Glaxo CEO Andrew Witty. "We're not at all surprised that there's some controversy," Witty tells Forbes. "Because there always is. People always have different opinions. Frankly, we didn't think what was published was particularly comprehensive. We feel good about where we stand today." And Witty remains committed to high-risk investments in high-risk drug programs.

- check out the Forbes story