• Is Metformin the Key to Anti-Aging?

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Is Metformin the Key to Anti-Aging?

Jan 07 2020

In the latest attempt to tap into the billion-dollar antiaging industry, a team of researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECM) have harnessed the power a generic drug to help individuals live longer. Working from the Institute for Aging Research at the AECM, Dr Nir Barzilai has raised US$50m to launch a five-year clinical trial exploring the antiaging properties of metformin, an affordable and widely used drug currently prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes.

“Death is inevitable, but ageing is not,” says Barzilai, referring to the new project designed to harness the properties of metformin.

Drug dramatically slows cell ageing

The benefits of metformin have already been explored in other clinical trials, with results indicating the drug can ward off the development of age-related diseases, including cancers, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Barzilai claims metformin has the capacity to dramatically slow cell ageing by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, which can prevent chronic damage and help support longevity.

He says metformin makes cells and tissues “younger” and could emerge as a lucrative drug for the evidence-based antiaging industry, which is currently worth an estimated US$110 billion. While metformin does have side effects such as nausea, the project will attempt to mitigate these, with Barzilai saying “the only long-term side effect is living for longer than your pension lasts.”

Barzilai is careful to clarify that while metformin could offer powerful antiaging properties, the goal is not to discover an 'elixir of life' or secret to immortality, but to improve overall health during the ageing process. “My interest is not to prove that metformin delays aging,” said Barzilai in a recent interview. “We know that we can target aging with a variety of drugs, some in humans," he adds. "This is not about life span. This is about health span.”

UK champions longevity research

The hunt for an antiaging holy grail is especially active in the UK, where the British government has included longevity in the 4 Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges initiatives. Oxford professor Lynne Cox, who is currently working on projects to prevent cell ageing and impede the onset of "cellular senescence" says ground-breaking clinical trials could revolutionise research by using molecules to destroy senescent cells and essentially stop the ageing process.

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