GSK-owned Sirtris drug extends lives of obese mice

After biotech Sirtris' anti-aging science took a shelling in recent years, one of the firm's drugs that mimics the red wine chemical resveratrol showed in a new study that it could extend the average lives of obese mice.

The study showed that obese mice on SRT-1720 lived 44% longer than those who did not take the drug. And the researchers, led by Rafael de Cabo of the National Institute on Aging, found that the drug cut down fat in the liver and boosted insulin sensitivity in the large mice. He and his colleagues published the findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

The findings come after some blows to the science of Cambridge, MA-based Sirtris, which GlaxoSmithKline famously spent $720 million to acquire in 2008. The year after the big buyout, for example, Pfizer ($PFE) biologists dropped a bomb on the firm's science, saying that they were unable to show in their own study that SRT-1720 and other compounds benefited overweight mice, the New York Times reports.

GSK ($GSK) doesn't plan to advance SRT-1720 into clinical trials, but it's developing another Sirtris drug, SRT-2104, for diabetes and other diseases, according to Still, the study involving the 1720 compound might be a win for Sirtris' scientific rep.

"Questions were raised about the molecules and if they are working the way we said they were," David Sinclair, a founder of Sirtris, who is still involved in the company as a scientific advisor, told the Times. "But with this paper, the weight of evidence is shifting back in favor of the premise that we can tweak the aging pathway with drugs."

- read the NYT report
- see the paper in Scientific Reports