The new drug study from Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass., claimed that SRT1720 activates the same receptor as the much-discussed resveratrol, the chemical in red wine that may slow some effects of aging.
Scientists are testing both resveratrol and SRT1720 for first treating type-two diabetes, and possibly later for other age-related diseases.
"We are very excited by these results. These compounds are mimicking calorie restriction and exercise while lowering levels of glucose and insulin in mice. It's a game changer," Discovery News quoted Michelle Dipp of Sirtris as saying.
In the study, the scientists overfed two groups of mice by about 40 percent, which can make up for almost eating 3,000 calories a day, and enough to pack on significant weight.
After drug administration in various concentrations, the scientists found that after 15 weeks of eating the high-calorie diet, the control mice gained significant weight.
However, the mice taking 500 mg of the drug, did not gain any weight. The cholesterol levels of the mice on the drug also improved.
The animals' exercise habits were also recorded. Mice without SRT1720 ran for roughly half a mile. Mice given 100 mg ran roughly seven-tenths of a mile. And mice on 500 mg of SRT1720 were able to run a full mile, twice the distance of untreated mice.
Dipp said that tests have shown that above 500 mg, the drug's effects plateau. SRT1720 has no known side effects.
Johan Auwerx at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland led the research.
The SIRT1 receptor is also activated during caloric restriction diets, which have been shown to lengthen life span in multiple animal models, and during exercise.
SIRT1 receptors are found in mitochondria, often called the powerhouse of the cell because of all the energy they produce.
The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.