The growing problems of obesity and diabetes can be combated by the use of a new drug that replicates the wonder ingredient in red wine.
Laboratory tests found that compound SRT1720 protected mice from weight gain and insulin disorders even when they ate a high-fat diet.
The drug mimics a chemical in the skins of red grapes called resveratrol that is believed to combat aging and help prevent heart disease and cancer. Both have been found to target a protein in the body called SIRT1.
The study, reported in the journal Cell Metabolism, showed low doses of SRT1720 partially protected mice from gaining weight on a high fat diet after 10 weeks of treatment.
At higher doses, the drug completely prevented weight gain in the animals. Blood sugar tolerance and insulin sensitivity - both linked to diabetes - were improved, and the animals became physically fitter.
Study leader Professor Johan Auwerx, from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, said: "These results show that new synthetic SIRT1 activators can reproduce the positive metabolic effects that were previously demonstrated using resveratrol, a naturally occurring SIRT1 activator found in red wine.
"But unlike resveratrol, these new chemical entities target only the SIRT1 pathway, making them more selective and potent for achieving these metabolic benefits."
"Good news for over-eating tee-totallers. Seriously though, great news about improving physical fitness, which can give an incentive to adopt a healthier lifestyle." - Gillian Kennedy, Northern Ireland