Following is an in-depth exploration of sirtuins.

Sirtuins (silent information regulator proteins) are a group of enzymes known to act as guardians that protect cells and enhance cellular survival. One sirtuin for example has been shown to increase DNA stability and speed cellular repairs, while increasing total cell lifespan.

Calorie restriction has been shown to greatly improve health in animals and humans by boosting activity of certain sirtuins, and a compound found in certain foods, resveratrol, apparently may, if developed successfully, be able to afford one the same benefits as calorie restriction while eating as usual.

A new study [at Harvard Medical School] demonstrates what researchers consider conclusive evidence that the red wine compound resveratrol directly activates a protein that promotes health and longevity in animal models.

What's more, the researchers have uncovered the molecular mechanism for this interaction, and show that a class of more potent drugs currently in clinical trials act in a similar fashion…..

For the last decade, the science of aging has increasingly focused on sirtuins, a group of genes that are believed to protect many organisms, including mammals, against diseases of aging.

Mounting evidence has demonstrated that resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of grapes as well as in peanuts and berries, increases the activity of a specific sirtuin, SIRT1, that protects the body from diseases by revving up the mitochondria, a kind of cellular battery that slowly runs down as we age. By recharging the batteries, SIRT1 can have profound effects on health.

Mice on resveratrol have twice the endurance and are relatively immune from effects of obesity and aging. In experiments with yeast, nematodes, bees, flies and mice, lifespan has been extended.

All in all this suggests that giving the mice this supplement could protect them from the equivalent of metabolic syndrome in humans, and reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. This is potentially important, as these types of disease are now a leading cause of disability and death in the developing world.

This research is at a very early stage, and we don’t know whether a treatment could be developed for testing in humans, and if it was, whether it would be safe or effective.