The Diabetes Drug That Could Be an Anti-Aging Miracle
In a slew of recent flashy endeavors, scientists, academics and exceptionally rich people have taken on the aging process. In 2013, Google launched Calico, its billion-dollar anti-aging research and development arm, which the following year formed a partnership with pharmaceutical giant AbbVie. Meanwhile, another major drug company, Novartis, is developing a patentable form of rapamycin—a biological agent discovered in the soil on Easter Island—which has been shown to boost immune function, and the company hopes it could become the first viable anti-aging pill.
But, according to Dr. Nir Barzilai, a scientist based in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City’s Bronx borough, we might already have the drug we need to slow the aging process—and it’s dirt cheap. Metformin is an old, generic diabetes drug, known for its blood sugar–lowering properties and for being quite safe. It’s common, and it costs about 35 cents per pill. It has also been found to stall the aging process in animal studies.
In June, Barzilai, along with academics from the not-for-profit American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), approached the Food and Drug Administration with an idea: the Targeting Aging With Metformin (TAME) study, to see if metformin could do for humans what it does for animals. It would be the first clinical trial to test if a drug could slow human aging. The FDA said yes, and since that June meeting the media has exploded with excitement over the purported “fountain of youth” drug, with rumors that it could extend human life span up to 120 years.
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