On this episode of Lifespan News, Ryan O’Shea focuses on a recent controversy involving David Sinclair and the well-known supplement resveratrol.
There’s been some controversy recently regarding resveratrol and the work of Dr. David Sinclair. In 2003, he published research on yeast in the journal Nature that said – “We show that the potent activator resveratrol… mimics calorie restriction by stimulating Sir2, increasing DNA stability and extending lifespan by 70%.”
These appeared to be promising results, and in 2006, Sinclair published another study on resveratrol, this time in mice. The paper was titled “Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet”, and went on to say that “Resveratrol extends the lifespan of diverse species” and that it “produces changes associated with longer lifespan”. They argued that “These data show that improving general health in mammals using small molecules is an attainable goal, and point to new approaches for treating obesity-related disorders and diseases of ageing.”
Based on some of his early resveratrol and SIRT1 activation research, Dr. Sinclair co-founded the biotechnology company Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. This company was purchased by GlaxoSmithKlein in 2008 for $720 million dollars.
But after that, Dr. Sinclair’s research was called into question when other labs had difficulty replicating his results. Eventually GlaxoSmithKlein shut down Sirtris. Still, Dr. Sinclair stood by his work, and resveratrol remained a popular and, in the eyes of many, a promising compound. It was and still is sold as a dietary supplement that many people take for what they believe are its health and longevity benefits.
Ultimately, I’d argue that the goal of everyone involved here should be to attain and share knowledge about how to extend healthy human lifespan, and to work to make sure that those methods are made available so that they can help people.
In that case, we’re all working towards the same goal, and we should do what serves that mission. Many people have called for a public conversation on this topic – not taking place in Twitter threads, but a direct conversation, as face-to-face as possible, featuring recognized experts on opposite sides of this issue. We at Lifespan.io are open to facilitating that conversation, but would be just as in favor of another neutral third party hosting it. Let’s make this happen.
Perhaps the outcome of this conversation could be both sides coming to an agreement on a study design, that they both sign off on, that would be able to settle this controversy once and for all. We’ve supported these researchers before, and we’d love to continue that. Ultimately, we want good science, with results that can benefit people. That should be what we all want. Let’s make it happen.