A diabetes medication that costs 6 cents a pill could become the next big anti-aging drug

A generic drug that's used to treat type 2 diabetes could help people live longer, healthier lives. Metformin, a drug that's been approved in the US for decades, is typically taken as a pill every day by people with diabetes.

But now researchers are looking into whether the drug could hold the key to living longer - and early research seems promising.

Dr. Nir Barzilai, the director of Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, has been researching the drug, with the hopes of one day getting it approved as an anti-aging treatment by the FDA.

If future research yields good results, metformin could become a much cheaper option than other approaches biotech companies are taking to help us live healthier, longer lives.

A potential anti-aging drug that's been around for ages

Metformin has been around in one form or another for centuries - Wired reports that it's actually a modified version of a compound found in the flower Galega officinalis, which you may know as French lilac. It was approved by the FDA for diabetes treatment of type 2 diabetes in 1994(not type 1, which is the result of an autoimmune disorder) though it was available in other countries before then.

Today, m etformin one of the most popular prescriptions in the US,according to GoodRx. The drug can cost as little as $4 , or 6 cents a pill.

Since metformin was approved for diabetes, it has started to be used off-label to treat conditions like pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes, and polycystic ovarian disease. Some retrospective studies and preclinical work have indicated that it might also lower a person's risk of cancer , though at least one clinical trial wasn't able to show that it had any protective effect on esophageal cancer.

Some futurists like Ray Kurzweil are already taking metformin for their health.

Using the drug as an anti-aging treatment makes sense, since it helps the body be more sensitive to insulin, which in turn lowers the amount of blood sugar in the body and helps things run more smoothly. That may mean the drug could simply help people feel healthier for longer than they might have otherwise - a phenomenon known as increasing the "healthspan ."

A number of studies have linked metformin to an extended, healthier life in non-human settings. Experiments in nematodes and male mice have found that the drug can increase the lifespans (and in some cases healthspans) of the organisms.

2014 retrospective analysis of an earlier study involving roughly 180,000 people also found that those with type 2 diabetes who took metformin lived longer than those in the non-diabetic control group.

What's holding metformin back

For now, the evidence on metformin and aging is reserved to these observational studies. But Barzilai and others are running a clinical trial to explore how the treatment stacks up to a placebo. The trial, titled "Targeting Aging with Metformin," or "TAME" for short, began in 2015, and will be looking at at men and women over the age of 60. It won't wrap up for another five years, Wired reports .

Until the clinical trial's results are released, there won't be enough evidence that taking the drug can improve your lifespan, at least in the eyes of the FDA. And like any drug, m etformin can cause some side effects, such as diarrhea, indigestion, headaches, and heartburn . In rare cases it can also lead to lactic acidosis, in which there's a buildup of lactate in the body.

If the FDA does approve the drug, however, it could change the way we approach aging.

"With all that knowledge, what's hard to imagine is one thing: The FDA doesn't consider aging as something that can be prevented," Barzilai saidin a 2014 TED talk . "And as long as that happens, your insurance company is not going to pay your bill if you take a drug and the pharmaceuticals are not going to develop the drugs because if nobody is going to pay for their use, why spend the money on that?"

Recent articles

Honor 9X

HONOR 9X with 6.59-inch FHD+ display, 48MP triple rear cameras, 16MP pop-up camera launched in India on Jan 14, 2020.

Oppo F15

Oppo has launched its new F-series smartphone- OPPO F15 in India on 16, Jan 2020.

Samsung is going to unveil three phones in its upcoming flagship Galaxy S20 lineup– the Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S20+, and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20+

Samsung is all set to launch its new flagship smartphones- Galaxy S20 series at its Galaxy Unpacked event next month.

Pocophone

Xiaomi has filed a trademark for a phone named Pocophone F2. This indicates that the successor of Pocophone F1 is coming soon.

Black Shark

Xiaomi's Black Shark 3 will be the first smartphone arrives with the highest amount of memory- 16GB RAM in the market.

Oppo F15

OPPO is all set to launch the Oppo F15 smartphone in India on January 16th, 2020.

Galaxy XCover Pro

Samsung has silently launched its new Xcover series of rugged smartphones - Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro in Finland.

Vivo

Vivo is hosting a three-day Christmas Carnival sale starting today and it brings discounts and offers on its range of smartphones.

Mi Sale

Xiaomi has announced the "Year-End Mi Fan Sale 2019", offering a wide range of smartphones and smart accessories at discounted prices.