Resveratrol: Why It Matters in HIV

This is the title of a posting by John S. James on the website. Resveratrol, found in red wine (but also derived from other sources to produce dietary supplements), has been the object of research in the last couple years pointing to its potential as a life-extending compound with strong cardioprotective effects. As John James suggests below, it may also be of special interest for people with HIV. One problem, however: in the scramble to create a patentable drug from the resveratrol molecule, well-financed biotech companies may be disregarding some of the compound’s potential, while focusing merely on the fastest way to produce a “blockbuster drug” that will yield big profits.

Summary: Large doses of resveratrol (found in small amounts in red wine) made headlines recently for extending the lifespan of mice on an unhealthy diet. This and other substances found in some wines and foods may protect against cardiovascular disease or diabetes, and improve the functioning of mitochondria in cells (which could reduce certain adverse effects of HIV or the drugs used to treat it).
Comment re HIV: Studies We Need Now, and Why We Are Unlikely to Get Them

Earlier, some researchers looked at resveratrol as a possible HIV treatment — although we have not seen any papers published on this since 2004. (To check what has been published in peer-reviewed journals and read the abstracts, visit and enter “resveratrol hiv” without the quotation marks into the search bar near the top of the window, then click Go).

Today we would most want to see small trials to find out if resveratrol might help relieve certain drug side effects, or other problems resulting from HIV disease — including lipid or other metabolic abnormalities, or neuropathy, or other symptoms suspected of being caused by mitochondrial damage. Trials aiming to relieve symptoms, or normalize blood levels that are easily measured, could potentially get results fairly quickly and with a fairly small number of volunteers. This is because a measurement is always available, avoiding the need to wait for rare “events” like disease progression or death, for end-point data to be collected.

The main problem in organizing such trials is that there is little economic incentive, unless the goal is to develop a costly, proprietary drug (requiring lots of bureaucracy and generating years of delay). Today greed is usually the sine qua non of drug development within the U.S. and multinational corporate system, and this system imposes its standards on the world. Greed in medicine is prone to intolerable abuses (when companies or individuals sacrifice the health of thousands of people for the promise of more profit for themselves). Therefore it requires heavy-handed controls, which cause major administrative delays and other lost opportunities, delays and losses that are not medically or scientifically necessary. We need alternative drug development systems. But institutional abuses (such as patents on human biology) make alternatives difficult.

You can read the complete posting at


One thought on “Resveratrol: Why It Matters in HIV

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s