US FDA gives OK for human trial of metformin as anti-ageing drug to prolong life until 120 years

By @vitthernandez on
Ageing
Maria de Jesus looks at the candles on her birthday cake as she celebrates her 113th birthday in the village of Corujo, near Tomar in central Portugal September 10, 2006. Maria is the oldest person in Europe, according to the U.S. Gerontology Research Group. Reuters/Marcos Borga

Metformin, a drug prescribed to diabetics, could possibly be the key for longer human life. The US Food and Drug Administration just gave last week its approval for a human trial to begin in 2016.

Belgian researchers from Cardiff University have proof that metformin extends the life of animals so now scientists want to replicate the trials using humans. They tested metformin on C. elegans, tiny roundworms, reports The Telegraph.

They observed that the worms aged slower, became healthier and did not develop wrinkles. When the same drug, the most prescribed diabetes medication, was tested on mice, the lifespan of the rodent extended by almost 40 percent and developed stronger bones. And diabetics who took metformin regularly lived longer than non-diabetics by about an average of eight years.

To make the Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) trial possible, scientists are recruiting 3,000 seniors who are between 70 and 80 years old and have cancer, cardio ailments and dementia, or are at risk of acquiring those incurable ailments. Dr Jay Olshanky, from the University of Illinois Chicago, spearheaded the new study, discussed on “Breakthrough,” a National Geographic documentary.

He says that by slowing ageing in humans, even by just a little, people could live longer and feel young. Its implication is that people would not die of old age when they reach their 70s, 80s or 90s but possibly live until they reach 110 or 120, without the ailments that accompany those difficult years.

Olshanky says it “would be the most important medical intervention in the modern era” to slow ageing which scientists say in not an inevitable part of life since cells have a DNA blueprint that could keep a body functioning forever, like some marine creatures.

For that to happen, billions of cell divisions in the body must happen to keep the body functioning correctly. However, the more times that cells have to divide, the more chances of errors are also there, preventing the repair of the damage.

In cancer patients, their cells lack the ability to get rid of mutations which lead to growth of tumours. In Alzheimer’s, the patient’s brain could no longer clear sticky plaques, leading to the development of dementia. The number of oxygen molecules are increased by metformin which is released into a cell and boosts robustness and longevity.

According to WebMD, metformin is prescribed to type 2 diabetics to help control blood sugar and prevent damage to kidney, blindness, nerve problems and loss of limbs and sexual functions. It also lessens risk of heart attack or stroke.

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