In Why an Anti-Aging Drug Can Never Legally Exist we explained that since aging is not a recognized disease in the United States there can never legally be a drug to treat aging. Something can only be called a drug if it treats a disease recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services.
We may have been wrong, either that or the government may be changing its thinking on aging. The FDA has approved a human trial on aging using the diabetes drug, metformin.
The trial will begin later this year and is called TAME for Targeting Aging with Metformin. We have written about the anti-aging properties of metformin in Anti Aging Product and AMPK Activation for Weight Loss and Longevity.
In short, metformin induces physiologic changes in the body similar to those seen with calorie restriction which has been shown to increase longevity in every species of life ever studied. Under calorie restriction the body adapts to run as efficiently as possible improving an individual life span in the process.
Metformin replicates the changes seen with calorie restriction by increasing the activity of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase or AMPK. Metformin increases the number of oxygen molecules released into a cell too.
I have not been able to find details on the upcoming metformin trial on the FDA website. I’m curious to see what the hypothesis is and what condition is being treated, because as of right now the United States does not consider aging to be a disease and drugs are only approved to treat recognized diseases. So maybe this study represents a change in thought on aging by the government.
Even “aging experts” like Dr. Jay Olshansky who have been critical of the use growth hormone to slow aging is excited about the prospects of metformin increasing the human life span. Dr. Olshansky says, “This would be the most important medical intervention in the modern era, an ability to slow ageing.”
More scientists now think it is possible for humans to live 110-120 years consistent with what we have been saying.
The TAME trial will involve 3,000 70 to 80 year olds at risk for heart disease, dementia, and cancer (seems that would be anyone in that age group).
Here’s an article from the Telegraph that discusses the trial in more detail.
More on Metformin
Metformin is not a new drug but relatively new in the United States. It was approved for use in England in 1957, but was not approved by the FDA for treatment of diabetes in the United States until 1994. (Yes, the FDA moves slow at times.) It is now the first line drug in the treatment type 2 diabetes.
More to come as we learn more about this trial.