The medicinal properties of the odd glass of red wine have long been document, and embraced. But now an international team of boffins has published a paper asserting that a particular compound found in red can activate an anti-ageing protein.
The substance in question is called resveratrol and it has long been suspected of being able to activate a class of proteins called sirtuins that have been observed as helping to extend the lives of organisms like yeast. Sirtuins are present in most mammals, with the SIRT 1 enzyme found in humans.
Controversy has raged for a decade or more over whether there's cause and effect at work when resveratrol meets sirtuins.
A new paper published today in Science, titled “Evidence for a Common Mechanism of SIRT1 Regulation by Allosteric Activators”, argues there's an explicit link between the two substances and that exposing oneself to resveratrol will therefore see your body do more to halt the ageing process.
Leonard Guarente, Novartis Professor of Biology at MIT and one of the discoverers of sirtuins, told MIT News that “This paper … provides findings that are very difficult to interpret in any way other than direct activation by the compounds.”
David Sinclair, an Australian professor of genetics at both the Harvard Medical School and the University of New South Wales who has worked alongside Guarente, told ABC Radio “What we're showing for the first time is that you can activate an anti-ageing protein in our bodies … in this publication we're showing for the first time that the red wine molecule does work for sure on this anti-ageing protein in the body.”
Sinclair has suggested treatments for humans could reach patients in five years.
Sinclair and Guarente are both optimistic that ageing-retardant treatments could help to control diseases that become prevalent with the onset of age, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis.
But Sinclair has warned against increasing red wine intake as a way to set your own sirtuins in motion.
“You'd need to have such large amounts from red wine that you'd probably kill off your liver and be drunk most of the time,” he told the ABC. ®