The already widely used and affordable drug is called metformin, and works by completely slowing down the aging process of the cells, and thereby the body. This drug could potentially be the answer for age-related diseases such as dementia, cancer and of course, diabetes. There are, of course, implications to increasing the length of human life by some 40 years because there needs to be some consideration of what a human will do with those extra 40 years of life.
Metformin slows the aging process
The drug, metformin, which has been used for quite some time in the treatment of diabetes, has shown to actually slow down the aging process of cells by allowing them to receive more oxygen. This makes the cells more durable and less susceptible to the kinds of diseases that make our cells die. This could mean the total extinction of diseases such as cancer and dementia, making an individual in their 70s as healthy as someone who is 20 years their junior.
Professor Gordon Lithgow of California’s Buck Institute for Research on Aging says, ” If you target an [aging] process and you slow down [aging] then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of [aging] as well. That’s revolutionary… Twenty years ago [aging] was a biological mystery. Now we are starting to understand what is going on.”
There have been previous studies conducted with metformin on mice and microscopic worms. The results showed that the creatures aged slower and stayed healthier for longer periods of time. The results also showed that the lifespan of the mice increased by some 40%.
Clinical trial for human beings
The clinical trial for this drug is scheduled to take place in about 1 year, next winter. The trial should include 3,000 subjects, aged between 70 and 80 years old. All the patients that will be selected will be at a high risk of developing cancer, dementia or heart disease.
Although finding a cure for cancer would only increase life expectancy by three years, the evidence is suggesting that this anti-aging drug could increase life expectancy by something far greater than that. Scientists have conducted studies on metformin in the past and it was determined that diabetes patients that were given this drug actually lived longer than those people who did not even have diabetes.
Professor Lithgow said to the Telegraph, “We know that it is possible for handfuls of people to live to very old age and still be physically and socially active, so clearly they carry some kind of protection in their bodies. They are essentially not [aging] as quickly. If we can harness that, then everyone can achieve those lifespans.”
How will we use our extra time?
I suppose there is bound to be some controversy over this topic because there is a fundamental issue of what a human being is going to do with an extra 40 years of their life. Take, for example, the diabetes patient. It may be so that they will live longer than a person that does not have diabetes because of this drug, metformin. But so long as they continue to have diabetes, the quality of life might not be so spectacular. The cancer-fighting properties and dementia-fighting properties of this drug are almost magical, but for other conditions could simply just prolong a human’s suffering.
Does an 80-year-old man want to live for another 40 years in a society that is probably going to require him to work for an extra 30 years in order to sustain that added lifetime? It seems to be an important question to ask because the life expectancy of man has continued to rise over the centuries, but the quality of life and how we use that extra time seems to be of detriment. So, how will we use our extra time on this planet if we are so lucky to be granted the gift of that?
What would you do with an extra 30 years? Would you want to live that long? Let us know on social media or in the comments section below.