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Sunday, November 19, 2006

To Life, To Life, Resveratrol...

If you're a mouse with access to good health care, you've got a lot to be excited about.  A couple of recent studies have shown that mice given very large doses of resveratrol (a component of grape skins and other foods) were able to (1) live longer on a high-fat diet and (2) have greater endurance than mice who did not consume resveratrol.  The results have been astounding.  It's too early to say whether resveratrol (or experimental drugs based on it that are believed to be "sirtuin activators") will have the same effects on humans and whether side effects will be tolerable.  I was puzzled, though, by this claim in the New York Times:

For the Food and Drug Administration, if for no one else, aging is not a disease and death is not an end-point. The F.D.A. will approve only drugs that treat diseases in measurable ways, so Dr. Westphal hopes to show that his sirtuin activators will improve the indicators of specific diseases, starting with diabetes.

I don't know the basis for this claim about the FDA.  Does it mean that substances designed merely to extend life without treating "disease" (as commonly understood) cannot be regulated by the FDA?  Would we not simply think of such a drug as treating a wide range of diseases that shorten life? I don't know whether its better for the FDA to regulate or not regulate such substances, but it would be unfortunate if pharmaceutical companies think that they must treat specific, identifiable diseases rather than simply promoting the quality and quantity of life in general. (X-posted.)

Posted by Adam Kolber on November 19, 2006 at 09:52 PM | Permalink

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