Scientists claim to have created a wonder drug that could cure everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes and obesity. The drug, which is being made by the biotech firm Sirtris, could be available within three years.
The excitement surrounds a family of drugs based on resveratrol, the "miracle ingredient" in red wine credited with inhibiting the development of cancer and heart disease.
The drugs would activate a gene called SIRT1 that is key to longevity and energy, and their potency would give them the equivalent health benefits of 8,000 bottles of wine.
Mice given one of the drugs, known as SRT1720, did not gain an ounce of weight despite being fed fatty foods, and blood tests suggested that they were protected against diabetes. They also showed improved stamina.
Now a follow-up study, led by the U.S. government's health research arm, has confirmed the drug's promise.
This time, giving it to "middle-aged" mice allowed them to escape many of the dangers of a bad diet, with those eating fatty foods living almost as long as mice fed normally. At high doses, the drug extended the life of the junk food group by as much as 44 per cent.
In addition, it stopped fat from clogging up their livers and, once again, appeared to protect against diabetes.
The research also states that the treated animals were more active.
Researcher Rafael de Cabo, of the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore, said the drugs offer the promise of a healthy old age.
"To me, the most tantalising thing about the findings are the health benefits," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.