Perhaps the most exciting research being conducted on resveratrol is occurring within the realm of life extension.
Researchers have determined that resveratrol has the ability to extend the lives of yeast, worms, fruit flies, a certain species of fish, and obese mice up to 70%, 29%, 24%, 50%, and 31% respectively (depending on the amount of resveratrol given). Whether these results will transfer to humans is not known.
So how does resveratrol extend life in certain organisms?
The exact answer is not known but a widely asserted theory is that Resveratrol activates an enzyme that is present in the bodies of many living organism called sirtuin 2 (or SIR2). SIR2 is believed to extend cell life by 'coercing' cells to repair themselves (i.e. repair their DNA while increasing the production of protective antioxidants) as opposed to dying. In essence, it is believed resveratrol extends the lives of individual cells and the lives of the 'host' organisms are extended as a result.
Interestingly, SIR2 is also activated by the practice of Caloric Restriction (reducing the calories in a 'normal' diet by around 40% while still consuming the necessary vitamins and minerals a body need; that is, replacing high calorie foods with low calorie nutrient rich foods). Science has proven that calorie restriction increases the lives of organisms such as mice while significant health benefits have been observed in monkeys and humans - studies are underway to determine if calorie restriction extends the lives of monkeys and humans - many in the scientific community are optimistic that it does.
Many scientists (and those in the venture capital community) are extremely optimistic about the future of resveratrol for disease prevention, disease treatment, and life extension; researchers from institutions such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are currently developing pharmaceuticals based on the chemical structure and properties of resveratrol. It is believed that these drugs are 5 or more years away from commercial and regulatory feasibility.