Scientists believe a drug that has been used to treat type 2 diabetes since the 1940s could also be used to slow the ageing process and effectively reduce occurrences of other age-related illness and disease.
Metaformin is currently used to control blood sugar levels, but has also proven to increase the lifespan of diabetic patients by an average of eight years.
Many scientists believe the drug could also reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as other illness and disease associated with ageing.
“If you target an ageing process and you slow down ageing then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of ageing as well,” said study advisor Professor Gordon Lithgow of the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in California.
Scientists already know that Metaformin can extend the life of animals. Preliminary tests have seen them age slower and stay healthier – even increasing a mouse’s life span by around 40 per cent, as well as increasing its bone strength.
A new clinical trial called Targeting Ageing with Metaformin (TAME) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in America to see if the same results might apply to humans. The human trial phase will commence in 2016, with 3000 volunteers aged 70 – 80 years, who have or are at risk of dementia, cancer and heart disease, taking part. Should the trial be successful, it is estimated that a 70-year-old will feel as biologically healthy as a 50-year-old, and that it may be possible to help people live healthily for up to 120 years.
It is also hoped that, by slowing down the ageing process, the drug could be used to treat kidney disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, gestational diabetes, loss of muscle tone, dizziness, falls, dementia, loss of eyesight and cancer.
“Enough advancements in ageing science have been made to lead us to believe it’s plausible, it’s possible, it’s been done for other species and there is every reason to believe it could be done in us,” said Professor Lithgow.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), life expectancy for Australians born in 2014 is 80.3-years-old for men and 84.4 for women, but scientists believe that, with the use of Metaformin, these estimates could be increased by almost 50 per cent.
If trails are successful, it could be the most important medical intervention in the modern era. Professor Lithgow believes that the drug could take the form of a ‘vaccine’ used to slow the effects of ageing.
Early results of the trial will be revealed in five years.
Read more at The Telegraph
Does the news of this drug excite you? Would you participate in such a trial? Would you like to live for 120 years? What type of issues do you think would be associated with living so long?