A popular diabetes drug is ready to test on humans - for something other than treating diabetes. A new clinical trial will determine if the drug can actually allow people to live a healthy life beyond 120 years old. Testing will start next year.
The popular drug metformin has proved to extend the lives of animals. Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given approval for a trial to determine whether the same effects will replicate in humans.
If the trial is successful, it essentially means that a person would remain as biologically healthy as someone 20 years their junior, much further into their lifespan.
One of the study advisers, aging expert Professor Gordon Lithgow, stated that, “If you target an aging process and you slow down aging then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of aging as well. That’s revolutionary. That’s never happened before.”
He further added that, “But there is every reason to believe it’s possible. The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans.”
Surprisingly, and what seems contrary to everything we know, aging is actually not inevitable. This is true because all of our cells contain a DNA map that allows a body to function correctly forever. In fact, some marine animals do not age or grow weaker at all over time.
However, in order to keep the body ticking and correctly functioning, billions of cell divisions must happen over the course of life. And, the more frequently cells divide, the more problems occur. At some point, cells can no longer repair damage to the body.
So, to try and “correct” this problem, scientists believe that metformin - which costs about 25 cents per day - may serve as a solution. The popular diabetes drug increases the number of oxygen molecules infused into a cell, which in turn boosts the cell’s longevity and robustness.
Researchers who tested the theory on tiny roundworms found that the worms aged at a slower rate and stayed healthier longer. There has also been research to confirm that diabetes patients who take metformin live an average of eight years longer than those patients who do not take the drug.
The new clinical trial will begin in the United States next year.