Apparently, there were still some people who hadn’t heard of Sirtris and its widely publicized anti-aging pills, because Sunday evening’s 60 Minutes story on the Cambridge, MA, biotech firm sparked a surge in Web searches on the company as well as requests for its experimental drugs.
The 60 Minutes story on CBS was a recap of the well-chronicled story of Sirtris, about how former venture capitalist and current Sirtris CEO Christoph Westphal and Harvard scientist David Sinclair formed the company to commercialize Sinclair’s discovery that activating certain genes can slow down the process of aging, at least in yeast.
The TV story didn’t break any news about Sirtris, but the 12-minute segment was apparently news to the droves of people who e-mailed us at Xconomy and commented on our recent posts on the company, primarily to glean more information about the firm’s drugs and, for some people, to find how they could score a supply. (Sirtris was initially developing a proprietary formulation of resveratrol, a natural anti-aging chemical found in the skins of grapes, but last year the firm announced that it would focus primarily on developing compounds 1,000-times more potent than resveratrol for diseases of aging such as diabetes.)
Indeed, we received a note on Monday from one viewer who wanted to know about Sirtris’ more potent compounds, asking: “Where can I purchase the ultra pure 250mg resveratrol made by Sirtris as seen on 60 Minutes?” And we’ve received e-mails from viewers looking to obtain Sirtris’ experimental drugs as well. (Please see the editor’s note below about such requests.)
I caught up with Sirtris’ Westphal yesterday to get his take on the TV story and the wave of interest in the company. “We got hundreds of telephone calls and e-mails,” Westphal told me. “Our Web site usually has 500 unique hits a day, which is actually fair amount for a small company, but today we’ll get 15,000 to 20,000—so it’s a huge a amount of general public interest in what we’re doing.”
London-based drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, which acquired Sirtris last spring for a tidy $720 million, stands to profit handsomely if Sirtris’ drugs succeed as well in clinical trials as they do in piquing peoples’ hunger for ways to stay young and healthy.
[Editor’s note: Xconomy has no information about Sirtris’s drugs beyond what we’ve written in our stories. You can see a rundown of all our stories mentioning Sirtris here; for additional information we suggest visiting Sirtris’s website.]
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