Metformin could be the first FDA approved antiaging drug – Next Big Future

For the last two decades, researchers started comparing the health of diabetics on metformin to those taking other diabetes drugs.

Metformin-takers tended to be healthier in all sorts of ways. They lived longer and had fewer cardiovascular events, and in at least some studies they were less likely to suffer from dementia and Alzheimers. Most surprising of all, they seemed to get cancer far less frequentlyas much as 25 to 40 percent less than diabetics taking two other popular medications. When they did get cancer, they tended to outlive diabetics with cancer who were taking other medications.

Lewis Cantley, the director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, once put it, Metformin may have already saved more people from cancer deaths than any drug in history. Nobel laureate James Watson (of DNA-structure fame), who takes metformin off-label for cancer prevention, once suggested that the drug appeared to be our only real clue into the business of fighting the disease.

Metformin is from an ancient herb and the herb has been prescribed since medieval times. Metformin can cost 5 cents per pill.

Metformin is already prescribed off-label to treat obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and acne.

Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, like most in his field, was aware of the good news about metformin that had been trickling out year after year.

Barzilai is confident that metformin is good enough to be the first treatment approved by the FDA to counter aging. He has maintained this confidence ever since he read a 2014 study that reviewed the fate of 90,400 type 2 diabetics taking either metformin or another medication. The metformin patients in the study not only outlived the diabetics taking the other druga not especially surprising result if metformin is a superior treatmentbut also outlived the nondiabetics studied as a comparison.

The FDA will not make its decision on whether metformin becomes the USs first antiaging drug until the study, dubbed Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME for short), is complete. That wont happen for at least another five years. But, based on their June 2015 meeting with FDA officials, Barzilai and his colleagues are optimistic that the FDA is onboard. Within five minutes, we were all in complete agreement that this is plausible and a good idea, S. Jay Olshansky says.Thus far, getting the FDA excited about TAME has proven to be less challenging than convincing someone to pay for the study. Because metformin is a generic, there is no pot of gold waiting for investors at the end of the process. The TAME trial, which will enroll approximately 3,000 men and women between the ages of 65 and 79 at 14 centers across the country, is projected to cost $69 million. Barzilai is counting on the National Institutes of Health to cover a significant share of the cost, and he has been directly involved in lobbying the agency to back the study. Robert Hariri, cofounder and president of genetic sequencing pioneer Craig Venters Human Longevity Cellular Therapeutics, noted during the discussion that he takes metformin (he claims that it has improved his eyesight), as do Ray Kurzweil, of Singularity fame, and Ned David, cofounder of Silicon Valley startup Unity Biotechnology, which is developing its own antiaging drugs.

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Metformin could be the first FDA approved antiaging drug - Next Big Future

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