Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The ideal of medicine - realized in mice

The goal of modern medicine is not to extend life. It is to extend wellness.

Sirtuin activators, enhanced versions of Resveratrol, can do that for mice:
Hoping Two Drugs Carry a Side Effect - Longer Life - NYTimes.com

...Mice on the drugs generally remain healthy right until the end of their lives and then just drop dead...
Yep, that's the medical ideal. The only caveat being that we'd like a month or so of disability, so family members get to say good-bye. Dropping over suddenly is not so good for families.

Ironically, since there's no FDA approval process for compressing debility, the goal of current Sirtuin drug studies is to show a delayed onset of some chronic condition. Of course compressing debility ought to do that, even if life itself does not lengthen. If nothing else, delay the onset of diabetes and osteoarthritis.

Alas, I'm a pessimist. I suspect we'll find that these drugs reduce the onset of some diseases, while increasing others -- probably cancers. Just a hunch.

Of course I might be very willing to personally trade a 3 fold increase in pancreatic cancer risk for a 3 fold reduction in dementia risk, but the FDA isn't set up to allow this kind of swap.

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