There has been a debate for close to a decade over a compound found in red wine called resveratrol.

Originally, researchers found that this chemical activates a gene that rejuvenates the mitochondria within the cells. Mitochondria are small organelles in each cell that produce the majority of the energy that cells use to power themselves. When mitochondria were amped up, researchers believed that it could protect against ageing because mitochondria are known to function less in older cells.

Reports published in 2009 and 2010 conflicted the original findings and said that the chemical works on a certain gene called SIRT1 only when there was the presence of a fluorescent tracking molecule and not otherwise. The fluorescent molecule does not exist naturally in the cells, so it was possible that it was affecting the results of the experiments.

The new study dispensed with the chemical and reran the previous tests. They swapped out the fluorescent chemical with a group of natural occurring amino acids that allowed for tracking as well. The results did show that resveratrol did indeed activate SIRT1.

The original research resulted in a biotech company being created, called Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, and subsequently being purchased by GlaxoSmithKline in 2008. After trials showed that the drug did not improve the condition of cancer patients the company shelved the drug.

There are currently many clinical trials currently underway to understand how this chemical could help human health. Currently it can be purchased as a nutritional supplement over the counter.

Still there is no confirmation that the drug will work in curing or treating diseases. For that, we must wait for the clinical trials to come to their conclusions. But for now, there is confirmation that the chemical can rejuvenate the powerhouse that is present in all of our cells.

The research published in the journal Science can be found here.

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