Humans may be one step closer to finding the Fountain of Youth — sort of. Researchers will begin testing Metformin, a medication used to treat diabetes, as an anti-aging drug in a clinical trial next year.
When it's used for treatment for type 2 diabetes, the drug reduces the amount of glucose produced in the liver, but researchers believe that it may also have the ability to slow down the aging process in individual cells by increasing oxygen released into each cell.
Reducing the biological effects of aging would mean the possibility of increasing lifespans, staving off aging-related diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and perhaps allowing humans to live into their 110s or 120s, the research suggests.
"In terms of a public health impact, this would be the most important medical intervention in the modern era," Dr. Jay Olshansky, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois Chicago, told National Geographic, speaking about the TAME trial for an episode of the science program Breakthrough.
Dr. Jay Olshansky Source: Nam Y. Huh/AP
Metformin is the world's most widely-used type 2 diabetes medication, according to the Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
The FDA's approval of the Targeting Aging With Metformin, or TAME, trial follows promising earlier research into the effects of the drug, the Telegraph reported. Belgian researchers who tested Metformin on roundworms found that, in addition to living longer, healthier lives, the worms who received the drug "did not slow down or develop wrinkles," the Telegraph reported.
The TAME trial will begin next year and will monitor the effects of Metformin on adults between the ages of 70 and 80, the Telegraph reports, but it will still be a while before it's known if Metformin is the "cure for aging" some hope it will be.