But to see the benefits, you would need to drink about 1,000 bottles a day. Since that was not the solution, Sinclair went back to the lab and found a way to make resveratrol a thousand times more potent.
"What we have discovered is that resveratrol works on a gene, which is called SIR T1, and this is a gene, which controls the aging process," said Sinclair. "Resveratrol seeks out that gene and switches it on."
Sinclair tested these high doses of resveratrol on mice. When compared on treadmills side by side, the mouse, when given this intensified form of resveratrol, ran twice as far as the mouse who was not fed the molecule. The supplement had major health benefits as well.
"They were eating a high fat diet, a fatty diet, and they lived just as long as a lean, healthy mouse. They didn't get heart disease, cancer, even osteoporosis, and they lived 30 percent longer," he said.
Humans have the same exact gene that is activated by resveratrol, so Sinclair believed it could have similar benefits in people.
Realizing the blockbuster potential for his new pill based on an intensified and improved form of resveratrol, Sinclair teamed up with biotech entrepreneur Chris Westphal and together they raised more than $100 million for further research.
"I think we've passed the turning point in our understanding of the aging process, " said Sinclair.
"We think that we can increase healthy life span. So if you're in your 80s, you'll be behaving as if you were in your 50s."
In the first human trial, a form of resveratrol called SRT501 successfully treated type II diabetes, one of the major diseases of aging.
"The major killers of Western society are exactly the diseases that should be able to be treated with the drugs we're developing," Sinclair states.
He and Westphal plan to get regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration within five years.