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A common anti-diabetic drug, metformin, will be tested on humans in the US, after researchers found that could lead to prolonging life expectancy by up to 120 years, according to a study published on telegraph.co.uk. What is metformin?
Metformin is a drug used for more than 40 years to lower blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to the National Medicines Agency. It is prescribed particularly to overweight patients, who can not keep under control their blood sugar levels by diet and physical activity. Metformin-based drugs can be used alone or in combination with other oral hypoglycemic agents or insulin. A decrease in the incidence of chronic complications of diabetes was noted in overweight patients with type 2 diabetes treated with metformin as first-line therapy, according to the study published by the Telegraph.
Researchers believe that this drug could be effective in slowing the aging process, diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may be delayed longer. Previous studies have already shown that metformin, a drug commonly used to treat diabetes type II, extend life, but tests have been carried out only on animals. US Food and Drug Agency (Food and Drug Administration) has recently given its consent for metformin to be tested on humans.
If it proves effective, metformin may offer people aged over 70 the chance to be as biologically healthy as those at 50 years, according to US researchers. The experts speak in this case of “treating” aging this way preventing degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes and dementia.
Scottish researcher Gordon Lithgow, from the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in California, one of the authors of the study, said: “If you aim to slow down aging, then you slow down all the diseases associated with aging.” Concerning metformin and study it will be included, the Scot said: “It is revolutionary.” “We have every reason to believe that is possible. The future means taking elements of biology that we have developed so far and applying them on people, “he said.
Researchers believe that metformin – the most widely used anti-diabetic drug, which is extremely cheap – is the best candidate in these clinical trials. Metformin increases the number of oxygen molecules released into a cell, which provides robustness and longevity.
The drug was tested on C.elegans worms, and they not only have aged more slowly, but kept their good health longer. The same happened with the mice used for testing this drug, rodents benefit from an extension of life by 40%. Although not tested on humans in order to increase longevity, last year researchers at Cardiff University in the UK found that patients receiving metformin as antidiabetic treatment lived longer than people without the disorder. On average, their life has been extended by eight years.
Tests that will debut next year in the US – Targeting Aging with Metformin or TAME – will have as subjects 3,000 people aged between 70 and 80 years, suffering or at risk of getting cancer, heart disease and dementia. In the US today, life expectancy is 82.8 years for women and 78.8 years for men, and researchers expect an increase of 50%. The authors of this study think that the discovery of an “anti-aging vaccine” would be a better solution than finding a universal cure cancer.
Stephanie Lederman, executive director of the American Federation for Aging Research in New York, participated in this study, says she does not want to find a “fountain of youth”, but an option to extend healthy life. Another study revealed that metformin could significantly reduce the risk of cancer in patients diagnosed with type II diabetes.