GSK pays $720m for elixir of life
Graeme Wearden guardian.co.uk, Wednesday April 23 2008
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Wednesday April 23 2008. It was last updated at 11:58 on April 23 2008.
The drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has bought a US company that uses a molecule found in red wine to try to slow the ageing process.
GSK announced last night that it is paying $720m (£362m) for Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a small firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Sirtris is a pioneer in the study of sirtuins, a class of enzymes thought to prevent illnesses such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease, and to inhibit the processes behind ageing and obesity.
GSK is paying $22.50 a share for Sirtris, an 84% premium on its closing share price yesterday. It said the deal could lead to the production of exciting new drugs.
"Modulation of this family of enzymes is a potentially transformative science that could address diseases associated with metabolism and ageing such as diabetes, muscle wasting, and neurodegeneration," said Moncef Slaoui, the chairman of research and development at GSK.
Sirtris's research has focused on resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and red wine. It is known to increase the production of sirtuins by activating a gene called SIRT1.
Sirtris has been developing drugs that act in the same way as resveratrol by triggering the expression of the SIRT1 gene. It has conducted around 20 clinical trials.
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