Aug. 19, 2011 -- While the Fountain of Youth is a legend, a fountain of longer life may be real.
According to an article in Thursday's issue of Scientific Reports, researchers have found a new drug that can make mice live 44 percent longer, on average, than similar mice who didn't get the drug. The drug is a synthetic compound called SRT1720, and it was developed by Sirtris, a pharmaceutical company in Cambridge, Mass.
The New York Times reported that studies are currently testing versions of SRT1720 on humans, the goal being a pill that will make this type of drug's benefits available to the general public.
In 2007, "Nightline" interviewed David Sinclair and Dr. Christoph Westphal, two of three co-chairs of Sirtris' Scientific Advisory Board. Sinclair was the company's scientific genius, Westphal its primary investor.
The pair shared a passion to capitalize on Sinclair's discovery that resveratrol, an ingredient of red wine, activated the genes that control aging, making mice who received it in his study live 30 percent longer than those who didn't. SRT1720 is designed to imitate resveratrol.
"Think of a Pac-Man controlling things in the cell, and resveratrol binds to the Pac-Man and makes it more active," Sinclair said, "snd tells the cell to be more efficient, ramp up metabolic rate and overall health of the cell and [is] resistant to diseases of aging."
"If we are right, these drugs will be enormously successful drugs and treat very important diseases," Westphal told "Nightline". "If we're right, this is a game-changer."