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In Vino Veritas

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring organic compound produced by certain plants. One of the best sources is the skin of red grapes. Eating grapes or drinking red wine thus causes exposure to resveratrol. This may not be so bad if you are a fungus, a worm, or a fruit fly since there are various reports that this substance can lengthen their lifespan. Alas, such evidence is not definitive for those of us who are humans.

A new report demonstrates that resveratrol inhibits the formation of blood vessels, the process known as angiogenesis. {Amer. J. Path., July 2010, Vol. 177, pp1-12} The work also nicely ties down the molecular details of how resveratrol does its job, namely through a pathway whose endpoint is to inhibit the synthesis of proteins on ribosomes in vascular endothelial cells.

 So what? It turns out that abnormal angiogenesis is an underlying factor in cancer, atherosclerosis, and macular degeneration. Curing all these diseases with a simple organic compound may be a bit much to ask, but the results do take another step towards developing more effective treatments for these fearful disorders.

As for the pharmacological drug-delivery system known as red wine, make mine Bordeaux.

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Periodic Tabloid is an ongoing record of the activities of the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s staff and scholars, whose work tells the story of chemistry over the centuries up to modern times. Stay tuned for behind-the-scenes coverage of our events, exclusive supplemental materials to our publications, analysis of pressing contemporary scientific issues, and much more.