It is true that ageing is inevitable, but scientists seem to have found that a drug might slow down the ageing process. The drug, metformin, has been used since several decades to treat diabetes. Over all these years, researchers have observed that people taking metformin live longer than people without diabetes. The drug also seems to reduce the chances of developing age-related cancers.
An in-depth study is planned to corroborate these observations and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug to be tested for its anti-ageing properties. The clinical trial will be known as Targeting Ageing with Metformin (TAME), which might start as early as next year. Around 3000 elderly people suffering from or at a high risk of developing cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer’s will be either given the drug or a placebo. These patients will be tracked for six years, to find whether they develop the ageing-related conditions. The trial will also study if the drug affects the longevity of the subjects.
“People on metformin get 30 percent less cancers, almost every cancer except maybe prostate cancer. There are fewer studies, but there is a signal that metformin prevents cognitive decline,” said co-leader of the study Nir Barzilai, Professor of Medicine and Genetics, and Director, Institute of Ageing Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He added, “Additionally, there is a study that suggests that people on metformin who, when they start taking metformin, are more obese and sicker than people without diabetes, they outlive people without diabetes.”
Researchers are optimistic about the trial given the evidence in animals such as C. elegans (roundworm) and mice, showing improved health and increased longevity when treated with metformin. The drug works by increasing the oxygen molecules in the cell and by enhancing the cellular antioxidant defense systems. More research is required to find how this impacts ageing and longevity.
Even as we wait for the results, this is a landmark trial for FDA, because if the drug is approved, it will be the first time FDA would recognize the process of ageing itself as a drug target.
Biotechin.asia had previously reported about the TAME trial while it was waiting for a green signal from FDA. Read it here.