The drug being touted as the secret to living well into your 100s

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Wonder drug? Metformin
Wonder drug? Metformin

An anti-ageing drug to be tested on humans next year may stop people growing old as quickly as they do, meaning they will live well past the age of 100.

The Food and Drug Administration in the US has given the go-ahead for a trial on 120 humans to see if the drug metformin can be replicated in humans. 

It is a common drug for diabetes, but scientists believe it can be used to give humans extra longevity in their lives following tests on animals. 

If successful it will mean that a person in their 70s would be as biologically healthy as a person in their early 50s, researchers said. 

“If you target an ageing process and you slow down ageing then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of ageing as well,” Scottish ageing expert Professor Gordon Lithgow said. 

“That’s revolutionary. That’s never happened before.

Lithgow,  who is associated with Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in California, added: “I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable.

“The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans. Twenty years ago ageing was a biological mystery. Now we are starting to understand what is going on.”

Tests carried out on certain species of worms and strains of laboratory mice found that metformin prolongs the lifespan and health of the animals. 

Scientists contend that the ageing process is not actually necessary because all cells contain a DNA blueprint which could keep a body functioning correctly.

We get older and less robust when these cells divide and deteriorate, creating errors which ultimately result in our eventual death. 

“Surprisingly, the findings indicate that this cheap and widely prescribed diabetic drug may have beneficial effects not only on patients with diabetes but also for people without, and interestingly, people with type 1 diabetes,” said Professor Craig Currie from Cardiff’s School of Medicine.

“Metformin has been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease benefits. It can also reduce pre-diabetics’ chances of developing the disease by a third.”

Jay Olshansky, of the University of Illinois Chicago, said: “If we can slow ageing in humans, even by just a little bit it would be monumental. People could be older, and feel young.”

“Enough advancements in ageing science have been made to lead us to believe it’s plausible, it’s possible, it’s been done for other species and there is every reason to believe it could be done in us.
“This would be the most important medical intervention in the modern era, an ability to slow ageing,”