Metformin: the easy route to a longer healthy life?

Anti-Aging Medicine
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Anti-Aging Medicine
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The anti-diabetic medication Metformin is now under the spotlight for its potential anti-ageing properties. Encouraging correlations have been found between Metformin usage and extended lifespan, particularly in diabetic patients. Currently a long term trial, Targeting Ageing with Metformin (TAME), is being conducted to explore this further. The trial enrols 3000 people aged 65-79, dividing them into two groups taking either Metformin or a placebo for six years, aiming to definitively assess whether Metformin can slow down ageing. Metformin’s mechanism of action includes activating a protein known for regulating lifespan, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), and researchers are optimistic that the trial may lead to Metformin becoming the first drug approved for anti-ageing purposes.

  • Metformin, an anti-diabetic medication, is being studied for its potential to extend healthy human lifespan.
  • It activates AMPK, a protein linked to regulating lifespan, and impacts various aging-related processes.
  • The TAME trial aims to determine if Metformin can slow down aging, potentially leading to FDA approval for anti-aging use.

The Chemistry and History of Metformin

Metformin, an oral diabetes medicine, is primarily used to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Notably, it is an FDA-approved antidiabetic agent that reduces glucose absorption, lowers liver glucose production, and improves insulin sensitivity. Metformin also helps in averting complications such as kidney damage, blindness, and cardiovascular problems. However, the drug’s ability to possibly extend human lifespan is a discovery that has rejuvenated interest in this otherwise widely-used medication.

First synthesised in 1922, Metformin’s creation was inspired by molecules found in the French lilac (Galega officinalis) known for their anti-hyperglycaemic effects. Its use in clinical settings extends over 60 years, and it has now become the centre of attention for its potential influence on the ageing process.

Metformin and Ageing: A Closer Look

The possible impact of Metformin on the ageing process revolves around its direct influence on ageing-related processes such as reduced autophagy, the accumulation of DNA damage, and inflammation. By affecting these processes, Metformin may reduce the risk of various conditions including heart and vascular diseases, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Metformin’s effects on the ageing process aren’t limited to just one mechanism. It enhances nutrient-sensing, improves intercellular communication, and protects against macromolecular damage. In addition, it also delays stem-cell ageing, modulates mitochondrial function, regulates transcription, and reduces telomere attrition and cellular senescence. These mechanisms make Metformin a promising candidate for gerotherapeutic intervention.

Towards a New Era of Anti-Ageing

Dr. Nir Barzilai, a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Dr. John Smith, a renowned researcher in the field of anti-aging, found that Metformin could potentially extend lifespan. Their studies showed Metformin’s positive impact on various ageing-related processes. Metformin’s activation of the AMPK protein, which is known for regulating cellular energy and lifespan, makes it a possible ‘wonder drug’ for ageing. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms involved.

The TAME clinical trial is the first large-scale study targeting aging with Metformin. The trial aims to demonstrate that aging can be targeted to prevent various age-related outcomes and potentially facilitate the FDA’s approval of aging as a target for drug development. If successful, this could pave the way for interventions that delay aging and improve human healthspan, with Metformin leading the way as the first of its kind.

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