Scientists are ready to begin testing the world's first anti-aging drug on humans next year. Their hope is that if they see the same results they've seen in animals they can help eradicate diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimers.
Research has already shown that the diabetes drug metformin can extend the life of animals, and now the Food and Drug Administration is giving the green light to see how it works on humans.
"If you target an aging process and you slow down aging then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of aging as well," Scottish aging expert Professor Gordon told The Telegraph. "That's revolutionary. That's never happened before."
The solution to attack aging rather than a disease came from a pattern scientists continually noticed: often times, when they helped eradicate an age-related disease, the patient would go on to die from another age-related disease.
"What we want to show is that if we delay ageing, that's the best way to delay disease," physician Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York told Nature.com.
It appears Barzilai may get his wish. Set for a 2016 trial, metformin is going to be administered and studied in humans. The hope is that the drug, which adds oxygen to cells to make them more robust and healthy, could give 70 year olds the health of 50 year olds.
"I have been doing research into aging for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-aging drug would have been though inconceivable," Gordon added. "But there is every reason to believe it's possible. The future is taking the biology that we've now developed and applying it to humans. 20 years ago aging was a biological mystery. Now we are starting to understand what is going on."
Scientists are set to get to work this winter, and they are now actively recruiting "3,000 70 to 80-year-olds who have, or are risk of, cancer, heart disease and dementia," according to The Telegraph.