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April 28, 2010
Sirtris's Compounds: Everyone Agrees?
Christoph Westphal gave what by all accounts was a very interesting talk at the recent Bio-IT conference. And considering his track record in company formation, he's well worth listening to. But concerning the recent controversy over the compounds and results from his most recent success (Sirtris), I found this part of his speech. . .well, interesting:
"There’s a debate in the academic world,” Westphal acknowledged. “We don’t know the specific molecular mechanism of why you need a specific substrate on the in vitro screen to find Sirt1 activators. Pfizer, Amgen, GSK, Sirtris, everyone in academia agrees on that. Then the question is: Is the mechanism direct on SIRT1 or indirect on SIRT1? Everyone in the field agrees our molecules have beneficial effects in animals, and I hope they will in man soon. The specifics of the mechanism are under debate. This kind of thing will be debated for ten years.”
Emphasis mine. And I emphasize that part because Pfizer specifically tested one of the highlighted Sirtris compounds, SRT1720, and was unable to reproduce the in vivo effects. So no, I wouldn't say that "everyone agrees" on this point. Not quite.
Westphal says that there's another paper in press that might be able to clear things up a bit, so we'll see what that one has to say. And he's right that the clinical results are what will really settle these questions - but we're going to have to wait a while for those. For now, agreement on a lot of key points remains hard to come by. . .
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