Sirtris founders tout potential of aging drugs

Sirtris Pharmaceuticals took center stage at a conference on aging held at Harvard Medical School last week, offering a detailed look at the drugs it is developing that mimic the activity of resveratrol in extending a person's lifespan and combating disease.

Harvard Med School researcher David Sinclair, who co-founded Sirtris and helped offer some Ivy League respectability to the R&D work being done on aging, believes that the body's activation of sirtuins is a defensive mechanism for dealing with famine. Investigators have seen that a sharp reduction in caloric intake extends the life of rats by 40 percent. And they believe that drugs that mimic a powerful concentration of resveratrol can improve a person's longevity without the hunger.

Sirtris corporate development chief Brian Gallagher revealed that unpublished studies showed that one of the developer's compounds, SRT-1720, significantly extended the life of mice.

Sinclair says the company's drugs have a good chance of working against inflammation, which is linked to ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome and glaucoma, as well as various cancers, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. SRT-501 is now being studied as a treatment for cancer while SRT-2104 is in a mid-stage study for diabetes.

"In five or six or seven years," said Christoph Westphal, Sirtris's other co-founder, "there will be drugs that prolong longevity."

- read the article in the New York Times