Who would have thought that the most common drug used for diabetes can actually help people live longer? A ground breaking clinical human trial is set to be conducted in 2016 to prove metformin's efficacy in slowing the aging process and helping people live up to 120 years.
The drug received a green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing on humans in 2016. The cheap drug has been dubbed as the fountain of youth for it said to slow down the aging process. Scientists are hopeful that this drug can actually treat diseases in older adults like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
The clinical trial on older patients will let them undergo the 10-pence-a-day treatment (15 cents) and if successful, it could mean that a 70-year-old person could be as healthy as a 50-year-old.
"I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable. But there is every reason to believe it's possible," said Professor Gordon Lithgow of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California.
The study, Targeting/Taming Aging With Metformin (TAME), is spearheaded by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and supported by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR). According to Dr. Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Einstein College of Medicine and a scientific co-director at AFAR, metformin's effect on aging has been extensively studied. In fact, it was linked to increased lifespan among rodents in animal studies.
Metformin has shown efficacy in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation that play major roles in human biological aging and health. Hence, for the clinical trial on humans, the researchers will recruit older adults in a double-blind, placebo-control study. The test will determine if metformin can delay the onset of multi-morbidities or diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline and death.
"The main reason to embark on this study is to convince the Food and Drug Administration to approve aging as an indication, and thus a target for future and even better medications," added Dr. Barzilai.
In 2014, metformin HCl was the leading diabetes prescription dispensed in the United States at 59.2 million units.
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