Longevity drugs are on the way!

Biologically, ageing represents the accumulation of changes over time in living organisms. Ageing is among the largest known risk factors for most human diseases: roughly 100,000 people worldwide die each day of age-related causes, and is the major cause of mortality in the developed world.

An expert in this field, Dr. Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, thinks that, people treated for one age-related disease often die from another relatively soon thereafter. Thus delaying the ageing process could be the best way to delay disease.

To test this notion, researchers from Albert Einstein College, have planned a clinical trial, called, Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME). The drug metformin, used for more than 60 years to treat diabetes, would be given to thousands of people who already have or at risk of, one or two of three conditions: cancer, heart disease or cognitive impairment. The participants will then be monitored to see whether the medication prevents the illnesses they do not already have, as well as diabetes and death. They plan to enrol 3,000 people aged 70–80 years at roughly 15 centres around the USA with estimated time of 5–7 years.

Successful completion of the trial would prove that metformin delays ageing and also that ageing is a treatable disorder. However the researchers assure that they are trying to increase healthy life span not immorality.

Interest in metformin’s possible anti-ageing effects arose because evidences show that diabetics taking metformin have lower rates of cancer and heart disease and have 15% longer life span than people without diabetes. It also prolongs healthy life and lifespan in worms and in some mouse strains.

Animal studies have shown that several other drugs and lifestyle practices can extend life by targeting physiological pathways. Other possible candidates are Rapamycin, and Everolimus. Both of the drogs suppress the immune system, at lower doses mimics calorie restriction.

Experts think that though other drugs might be more effective at delaying ageing in animal studies, the many years of experience with metformin in people and data suggesting its impacts on ageing process makes it a good candidate for a first clinical trial.

 

Nature 522, 265–266 (18 June 2015)  doi:10.1038/522265a

 

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Arunima Maiti

Arunima Maiti

Biomedical scientist with special interest in reproductive biology.

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