What If There Really Were an Anti-Aging Pill?
by Bill Sardi
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In 1998 author Scott Van De Mark wrote a novel entitled Elixir, which was about a biologist who invented a youth pill. The novel wasn’t so much about the pill but the enormous opposition to it.
In the book, Dan McEllis, the name of the scientist who invented the pill, won a Nobel Prize, acquired a drug company to market his pill, became a billionaire, and had millions of Americans taking his youth pill for $199 a month.
But this fictional scientist also had his product banned by the Catholic Church, initially opposed by the American Medical Association and population control groups, temporarily removed from sale by the Food & Drug Administration, and faced a Constitutional Amendment against it.
In the book, casket makers aligned with owners of cemeteries in an attempt to buy McEllis out, claiming such a pill would put many out of work. Racial groups threatened inventor McEllis they would go public with accusations he was a racist if he didn’t provide Blacks with some of the first pills.
The book is not worth the read as it has little drama outside of the many sexual encounters author Van De Mark dreams up in what essentially becomes a "sex forever" pill. (If you want to read the book, be aware, I got the last copy available in North American from online used-book dealers. Also, don’t get confused, there are other books by the same title with a similar story line.)
In this novel, scientist McEllis delivers cunning arguments in favor of such a pill before various skeptical audiences. He disarms opponents of the pill by conceding that "it is possible that we are learning things that man was not intended to know," and that "eternal life, appearing on our table as a fine vintage wine, may, when tasted, be quite bitter."
Doctors were won over by McEllis when his youth pill had to be acquired by prescription only. The public would have to make an appointment for the pills. Since demand for the pill was greater than its supply, doctors and patients sold and re-sold them for black-market prices. At first, doctors used up all the limited supply of pills for themselves and their families.
Marketing surveys showed a third of the public would not take the pill, which was marketed under the trade name "Eternal Life Elixir." Endorsements by Hollywood personalities were not needed to sell Elixir pills, but the drug company that marketed them did conduct TV advertising. It was rumored the President of the United States was taking Elixir pills, but not the Pope.
Anti-aging pills in real life
In the real world, I have been in a unique position, as a formulator and managing partner of a small company that makes a so-called red wine anti-aging pill, to experience the various roadblocks and objections to such a pill. In my experience, opposition to such a pill is far greater than what was posed in Mark Van De Mark’s book.
When it comes to anti-aging pills, self-interest, envy, fraud and efforts to protect the status quo are the order of the day. Hucksters race past the need to scientifically validate their products work and ignore regulations against false advertising, to claim they have an anti-aging pill and all that consumers need do is provide them with a credit card number to receive a free bottle of pills. Millions have fallen for this ruse and had their credit cards billed for unwanted pills.
Early on I began to experience, first-hand, difficulties marketing such a pill. It began with an Ivy League university informing an assistant professor, that if he cooperated in marketing such a pill directly to the public as a dietary supplement, he would never be tenured and lose his job. The university covertly tapped my phone calls and intercepted e-mails to confront this professor with an ultimatum — make the pills a prescription drug, or else.
Later, in an effort to prove the pill I formulated worked, the first human clinical study was rapidly designed and launched. But the company contracted to do the study botched it. It appeared intentional. Blood samples were inexplicably contaminated. Study participants somehow forgot to take the pills.
Then a human clinical study was proposed by a major university to study the pill for Alzheimer’s disease. The study was even approved for funding by the National Institutes of Health. The professor who designed the study even flew to California to discuss how the study would proceed. But a pharmaceutical company interfered, offered the university more money to study their prescription Alzheimer’s drug, and the study was tabled.
In the very beginning there was also covert opposition from within the sometimes-sleazy dietary supplement industry itself. One envious company, which brands itself as the leader the field of life extension, posted a website by a fictitious person (Mark Miller), claiming the pill I had invented, and a university professor who endorsed it, were both a fraud. Three years and $400,000 of legal expenses later the courts determined that the company behind this was covering for the fact its anti-aging red wine pill didn’t contain a sufficient amount of a key ingredient. Later, an independent watch-dog testing laboratory confirmed this fact.
The ultimate test
Five years into marketing anti-aging pills, proof such a pill might in fact delay aging was finally put to the ultimate test. Laboratory mice were to be placed on a short-term calorie-restricted diet and compared against animals either given a standard-calorie diet plus a plain red-wine resveratrol pill or the pill I had formulated which provided the key red wine molecule called resveratrol along with other molecules. Resveratrol (rez-vair-ah-trawl) is believed to be a near-magical molecule that mimics a calorie-restricted diet. Calorie restriction nearly doubles the lifespan of every living organism studied (yeast cells, fruit flies, roundworms and laboratory mice).
The results of the study, published in the journal Experimental Gerontology, were unanticipated:
Gene Activation in Laboratory Mice
Calorie restricted diet
Resveratrol in a nutriceutical mix
While a short-term limited calorie diet activated 198 genes and plain resveratrol 225 genes, it would presumably take lifetime of taking resveratrol pills to activate the same magnitude of genes (832) influenced by long-term adherence to a limited-calorie diet. But the nutriceutical mix activated far more genes at an earlier point in time! Consumers taking plain resveratrol pills might be wasting their money. Furthermore, of the 832 genes activated by long-term calorie restriction, 633 of these genes were switched in the same direction by the nutriceutical mixture! (Genes can be switched on or off by provision of certain small molecules.) So far, this is as close to an anti-aging pill that science has found.
So what happened to this study, which was published in 2008? Well, the researchers who conducted the study suddenly became mum. One of the researchers, interviewed on CBS’ 60-Minutes TV program about the prospect of red wine resveratrol anti-aging pills, never said a word about the study his laboratory conducted which found a particular anti-aging pill worked 9 times better than plain resveratrol. The researchers wouldn’t lecture or present their findings at any scientific meetings. Not even one other researcher has cited this paper in their published articles. The biology crowd is ignoring this stupendous finding.
Research efforts continued. Put to the test in an animal study, laboratory mice survived an otherwise fatal heart attack when fed the above-mentioned nutriceutical mixture. The heart-protective effect was only demonstrated at the dose provided in the nutriceutical mix and not by mega-dose resveratrol pills. This report should have generated headlines around the world since half the people who succumb to a sudden-mortal heart attack were taking an aspirin tablet on the day of their demise. Aspirin isn’t working.
Furthermore, the resveratrol-based nutriceutical pill thins the blood and prevents blood clots in coronary arteries that supply the heart with oxygenated blood, in a similar but safer manner than aspirin. For ethical reasons, a human study like this cannot be performed. So any demand to wait for human studies is simply out of the question. Yet when $23,000 was spent to place this news story on worldwide satellite distribution, about a red wine pill limiting damage to the heart in the event of a heart attack and potentially working better than aspirin, it fell on deaf ears. Not one news agency picked up the story. Not one cardiology organization expressed interest.
A remarkable discovery is being revealed — that the miracle of red wine, which produces unparalleled heart health (French red wine drinkers have a mortality rate from coronary heart disease of 90 per 100,000, versus 240 per 100,000 in North America), appears to be mimicked by the synergistic effects of low-doses of a combination of small natural molecules, sans the alcohol.
In a soon-to-be-published study, this same nutriceutical mixture was shown to be far safer at any dose than plain resveratrol and red wine! Whereas a human equivalent 3500-milligram dose of plain resveratrol will kill the heart of a laboratory mouse every time, the nutriceutical mix did not exhibit any toxicity at double that dose (7000 mg).
Even more disheartening, in human use, an eye physician provided photographic evidence that this nutriceutical mix inhibited the sight-threatening formation of new blood vessels at the back of the eyes, but then chose not to publish evidence of this discovery and elected to attempt to invent his own sight-saving pill. Such a pill would avert the need for injections directly into the eyes of senior adults and might even be used preventively. This discovery could save billions of dollars for the Medicare program.
So is the world any closer to a bona fide anti-aging pill? Who would even know? Unless the New York Times or Harvard Medical School says so, it never happened.
Would the public even take such a pill?
Would the public even take such a pill? Well, sadly, my investigation says no. Americans today, having seen the drugs and circuses produced by modern medicine, now fear longevity more than death. Confronted with a picture of a man blowing out the candles on his 100th birthday cake, most people respond by saying: "I would never want to live that long." I never thought I would hear retirees essentially say they would willingly line up at the Soylent Green factory for processing.
Nine out of ten retirees responding to an online AARP magazine poll said they would pass up such a pill for fear it would produce more debilitated years, not active, independent years of life. Furthermore, retirees feared they would run out of retirement money and many thought they would contribute to the overpopulation of the world.
A European study revealed that consumers would take such a pill, but only if someone else paid for it. Hence the reason why consumers fell for the bogus free-bottle offers online.
My investigation shows most people would overlook an anti-aging pill even if it were proven because they falsely believe they are too old to benefit from such a pill, some claim such a pill would interfere with God’s timing (it’s OK with God to overeat or smoke tobacco and take years off your life, just not OK to do anything that would add years to one’s life), or they think this topic is over their head and they punt and ask their doctor to make the decision to take such a pill for them.
An anti-aging pill discovery 35 years ago
Surprisingly, my investigation led me to evidence of a disturbing nature. Biological gerontologists discovered the mechanisms that switch genes on and off more than 35 years ago, but the public was not informed of this momentous discovery. In the early 1970s, knowing the mechanisms that switch genes on and off, gerontologists said 20 years would be added to human life expectancy, that an anti-aging pill was within reach. People would commonly have a 100-year life expectancy. A small natural molecule was even tested and found to prolong life in animals. But these discoveries were kept in the scientific closet.
I later uncovered a revealing document published by life insurance actuaries about a summit meeting to deal with super-longevity predicted by new discoveries in genetic engineering. The life insurance actuaries figured out super-longevity would ruin their business which relies on the public dying on time.
So working in league with other parties in the field of medical research and the news media, elite members of society decided such a discovery would pose too many problems for society and would run counter the population control agenda (birth control pill, 1 million abortions a year) that was underway at the time. Discoveries concerning an anti-aging pill were thrown back into the scientific filing cabinet, only to be revealed in recent times. Had biologists moved ahead to produce such a pill in the 1970s, and such a technology was shown to slow the onset of age-related diseases by just 7 years, most Americans would have avoided admission to nursing homes and the insolvency of Medicare would have been averted.
The prospect of an anti-aging pill is not welcomed by many. Six years after the prospect of an anti-aging red wine pill was first announced in Nature Magazine, sales of such pills don’t amount to 3% of what Viagra sold in its first year of availability in the marketplace.