In my 10/31/06 post on caloric restriction I elected not to get into the resveratrol story, but followup articles in the NY Times and Nature now force me to do that (....added note: after writing this post I see the resveratrol story on the NBC Evening News with Brian Williams!) Experiments showing that resveratrol extends lifespan in lower animals have been extended now to mice. Several Biotec companies are testing improved versions of the compound.
Here's the abstract from the Nature article:
Resveratrol (3,5,4'-trihydroxystilbene) extends the lifespan of diverse species including Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. In these organisms, lifespan extension is dependent on Sir2, a conserved deacetylase proposed to underlie the beneficial effects of caloric restriction. Here we show that resveratrol shifts the physiology of middle-aged mice on a high-calorie diet towards that of mice on a standard diet and significantly increases their survival. Resveratrol produces changes associated with longer lifespan, including increased insulin sensitivity, reduced insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-I) levels, increased AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor- coactivator 1 (PGC-1) activity, increased mitochondrial number, and improved motor function. Parametric analysis of gene set enrichment revealed that resveratrol opposed the effects of the high-calorie diet in 144 out of 153 significantly altered pathways. These data show that improving general health in mammals using small molecules is an attainable goal, and point to new approaches for treating obesity-related disorders and diseases of ageing.