Glaxo halts development of Sirtris’s resveratrol

By Albertina Torsoli
Bloomberg News / December 2, 2010

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LONDON — GlaxoSmithKline PLC stopped development of SRT501, a drug designed to mimic the benefits of red wine, saying the medication didn’t work well enough in cancer patients and could worsen kidney damage.

A clinical trial of the compound was halted this year after kidney damage developed in some patients, the company said in May. After reviewing results of the study in multiple myeloma patients, the company dropped the compound, which is also known as resveratrol, said Claire Brough, a Glaxo spokeswoman.

“These data suggested this formulation of resveratrol may only offer minimal efficacy while having a potential to indirectly exacerbate a renal complication common in this patient population,’’ she said by e-mail. “We have are no further plans to develop SRT501.’’

The decision means the London-based company has given up on the leading drug candidate from Cambridge, Mass.-based Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc., which Glaxo acquired for $720 million in 2008. Another drug, SRT2104, is being tested in “a number of’’ midstage clinical trials for use against Type 2 diabetes and psoriasis, among other illnesses, Brough said.

An early-stage trial was recently completed on a third compound, SRT2379, she said.

SRT501 was studied for a range of conditions, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and cancer treatment and prevention, according to Bloomberg data.

Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, switches on a class of proteins called sirtuins that may prevent gene mutations and repair DNA damage, potentially slowing the aging process.

When Sirtris was bought by Glaxo, Christoph Westpahl was chief executive of the Cambridge firm. At the time, he said it was a “unique moment in drug discovery.’’