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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Drug Companies Busted For Fooling Mother Nature

Some of you have been asking about the May 4th 2010

announcement by GlaxoSmithKline that they were

suspending a clinical trial of their resveratrol drug

because of safety concerns.

Some of the articles went so far to say that people

should be cautious about taking resveratrol supplements

until these safety issues had been resolved.

Let me make this perfectly clear!

The "resveratrol" drug referred to in these articles is

not resveratrol itself!

But let's start at the beginning.

The story started when scientists at Harvard screened

over 500,000 chemicals to find which would be most

effective at turning on anti-aging genes.

They were looking for a drug that they could patent and

sell to a drug company for big bucks - not a naturally

occurring botanical nutrient.

But what they found was that resveratrol, a nutrient

that is found naturally in red wine, was the most

effective compound out of those 500,000 that they

screened at turning on the anti-aging genes.

That was great news for those of you who are using

resveratrol supplements, but it was bad news for them

because they couldn't patent it and, therefore,

couldn't sell it to a drug company.

But all was not lost. There is a time-tested process

for dealing with this dilemma.

You just make a chemically modified derivative of the

natural compound and, if it works, you patent the

chemical derivative and sell it to a drug company.

So that's what the scientists at Harvard did. They made

a chemical derivative of resveratrol called SRT501,

showed that it also turned on the anti-aging genes,

patented it and sold it to Sirtris Pharmaceuticals for

$500 million. Sirtris, in turn, sold it to

GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million.

As I said, this is a frequently used process. Many

successful drugs have been obtained this way, but the

process is also fraught with perils.

The problem is that the chemically modified derivative

is often not metabolized in the same way as the

original and frequently can be toxic in unexpected


In fact, the failure rate for this process is quite

high. Most of the chemical derivatives fail during

clinical trials for one reason or another. It is only

on a very rare occasion that these chemically modified

derivatives make it through clinical trials and become

a successful drug.

Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that SRT501

displayed unexpected toxicity that caused

GlaxoSmithKline to halt clinical trials of the drug.

But, SRT501 is not resveratrol and the toxicities of

this drug have nothing to do with resveratrol.

Resveratrol is a completely natural nutrient found in

grapes, red wine and other foods. SRT501 is a man-made

chemical derivative of resveratrol.

Sometimes it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature!

To Your Health!

Dr. Stephen G Chantey

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