Let the (Anti-Aging) Trials Begin

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Let the (Anti-Aging) Trials Begin

The quest for a drug that could halt or reverse the aging process has consumed scientists for decades. Now, we’ve reached a major milestone in bringing this breakthrough to reality: the first clinical trials are about to begin.1

Metformin is a drug that is already widely used to treat diabetes, and it costs just pennies to manufacture. Intriguingly, researchers in Belgium conducted experiments on C. elegans roundworms (which share certain DNA characteristics with humans) and found that it improved health and dramatically extended lifespans in those organisms.

Similarly, when scientists treated mice with metformin, the mice lived 40 percent longer and their bone density increased.

These results were so encouraging that the FDA has approved human clinical trials of metformin as an anti-aging therapy. The $50 million study will be called Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) and it will take place at fifteen research centers in the U.S. over a period of five to seven years starting in 2016. All of the 3,000 subjects will be aged seventy to eighty and will have two of the following three conditions: cancer, heart disease, or cognitive impairment.

The researchers will study whether metformin prevents the participants from contracting diabetes or any of the three diseases they did not have at the beginning of the study. The researchers will also compare the mortality rate of the subjects to a control group.

Metformin suppresses glucose production by the liver and increases sensitivity to insulin. It also increases the number of oxygen molecules at the cellular level. According to the researchers, this slows the cell divisions that lead to aging. The more times that cells divide, the more likely it is that replication errors will occur, leading to cancer, Alzheimer’s, or other diseases.

If it is as effective as the researchers believe it to be, metformin could revolutionize human existence, enabling people to live to 100 or even 120 years, while remaining healthy and vigorous.

That’s quite a contrast to the situation we face today. Advances in medicine have prolonged people’s lives, but most drugs simply allow people to live longer after contracting medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. People continue to live, but their quality of life typically suffers.

However, all of these maladies that we associate with aging could actually be prevented if the aging process could be interrupted. That would mean that people would not live just 50 percent longer—they would be 100 percent healthy for the duration of those longer lives.

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