Red wine pill to cure major diseases on the horizon
In recent years, the health benefits of red wine have been hotly contested; however, a new study has laid the controversy to rest. In addition, it is likely that a ‘red wine pill’ may soon be available to treat such disparate diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes.
The good news coming from the study is that red wine can cure cancer and other diseases. The bad news is that you would need to drink 100 glasses a day to get an adequate amount of resveratrol, the red wine component responsible for the health benefits. However, more good news: David Sinclair, PhD, an Australian biologist, and his colleagues are developing a ‘red wine pill’ that contains the resveratrol equivalent of 100 glasses of wine.
An international team of researchers published their findings on March 8 in the journal Nature. Dr. Sinclair noted that the study had settled a controversy over whether resveratrol can fight cancer, Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes. Ten years ago scientists found resveratrol could activate a “sirtuin” protein known to combat age-related diseases. However, the claim was disputed because the reaction could only be observed when a fluorescent chemical known as fluorophore was present. The new study found that resveratrol could have the desired effect in the absence of the synthetic chemical. Dr. Sinclair, who is on the faculties of Harvard medical School and the University of New South Wales, explained that fluorophore mimicked “greasy” amino acids that exist naturally in the body. He said, “It’s as we thought; resveratrol really does turn on this anti-aging enzyme… It’s more elegant and exciting than just mopping up free radicals. It’s activating our body’s genetic defenses against aging and diseases. That’s probably more effective than any anti-oxidant.”
As previously noted, red wine only contains low concentrations of resveratrol; however, Dr. Sinclair explained that synthetic drugs that work the same way but with 100 times the potency could be available in five years. Since 2005, approximately 4,000 varieties of the drug have been developed since 2005; the more promising versions have been tested in mice and three progressing to human trials. Dr. Sinclair noted, “The studies are small so we can’t claim victory yet, but the drugs appear to be safe in humans so far.” He did agree to the possibility that small doses of resveratrol could be beneficial to one’s health, but drinking a glass or two won’t cure any major diseases because it lacks the potency.
Resveratrol (3,5,4'-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) is a stilbenoid, a type of natural phenol, and a phytoalexin produced naturally by several plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi. Phytoalexins are antimicrobial substances produced by plants, which accumulate rapidly at areas of pathogen infection. They are broad spectrum inhibitors of infectious agents. Inasmuch as the substance protects plants against disease, it is logical to assume that it could also exhibit a protective effect on pathogens that attack animals.