Scientists are pushing to test the drug, which is used to treat diabetes today.
A pill that’s been used for decades could be the fountain of youth—and scientists are hoping to test it this year. Quartz reports that a drug called metformin could slow the aging process and keep people healthier, longer.
Metformin, a drug that currently is used to treat type 2 diabetes, increases your sensitivity to insulin by making your liver produce less glucose. It’s been used safely on diabetes patients for more than 60 years. But scientists have tested the drug on animals like worms and mice and found that it also increases life spans and delays the onset of other diseases.
A group of scientists are set to meet with the Food and Drug Administration to push for a clinical trial. If they get permission, the researchers will give a drug called metformin to about 3,000 elderly people who either suffer from or have a high risk for diseases like cancer, heart disease, or cognitive problems. They’ll then track these participants to see if the drug prevents aging-related diseases they don’t already have, prevents diabetes and lengthens their life spans.
If their clinical trial works out, the researchers say they’ll have discovered an official anti-aging drug. “What we want to show is that if we delay ageing, that’s the best way to delay disease,” Dr. Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine said in the journal Nature. Though they’re not looking to make people immortal or anything, they do want to treat aging like it’s a disease of its own.
There’s a catch, though: The trial will cost about $50 million, and the researchers don’t have funding yet. It might be hard to find a drug company willing to fund testing on a drug that isn’t patented anymore. But if it all works out, store shelves will be packed with aging-proof pills.