Could a generic drug that has been used for years to treat diabetes, be the key to an “anti-aging” pill?
Metformin was originally developed and approved by the FDA to treat Type 2 diabetes, and metformin is still being used to successfully treat diabetes today. However, in the anti-aging community, metformin has also been used “off label” for many years as a treatment for obesity, and to lessen the symptoms of aging.
Among its other medicinal properties, metformin is known to have the remarkable ability to increase your cells’ capacity to take up oxygen. In this way, the drug acts like a “super-antioxidant,” keeping your cells younger and healthier. It is that benefit that has had anti-aging doctors and clinics prescribing metformin for their non-diabetic patients.
And now, it seems like “conventional” medicine is catching on to the practice. A team of researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECM) has launched a five-year clinical trial exploring the antiaging properties of metformin.
“Death is inevitable, but aging is not,” says Dr. Nir Barzilai, lead researcher on the latest project designed to harness the properties of metformin.
The benefits of metformin have already been explored in other clinical trials, with results indicating the drug can successfully ward off the development of age-related diseases, including cancers, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Barzilai and other proponents of the drug’s use to increase longevity links those successes to metformin’s ability to combat and reduce oxidative stress.
Barzilai 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.”
All joking aside, Barzilai is careful to clarify that while metformin could offer powerful antiaging properties, his goal is not to discover the proverbial “Fountain of Youth,” but to improve overall health during the aging 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.”