The dream, or the nightmare, depending on how you take it, is living forever, or at least in the foreseeable future to 120+ years old. 2016 will be the year of a new anti-aging drug test that will enter trials which could see diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s consigned to distant memory.
Scientists now believe that it is possible to actually stop people growing old as quickly and help them live in good health well into their 110s and 120s.
Although it might seem like science fiction, researchers have already proven that the diabetes drug metformin extends the life of animals, and the Food and Drug Administration in the US has now given the go ahead for a trial to see if the same effects can be replicated in humans.
“This would be the most important medical intervention in the modern era, an ability to slow ageing”
Dr Jay Olshansky, University of Illinois Chicago
If successful it will mean that a person in their 70s would be as biologically healthy as a 50-year-old. It could usher in a new era of ‘geroscience’ where doctors would no longer fight individual conditions like cancer, diabetes and dementia, but instead treat the underlying mechanism – ageing.
The new clinical trial called Targeting Aging with Metformin, or TAME, is scheduled to begin in the US next winter. Scientists from a range of institutions are currently raising funds and recruiting 3,000 70 to 80 year olds who have, or are risk of, cancer, heart disease and dementia. They are hoping to show that drug slows the ageing process and stops disease.
Outlining the new study on the National Geographic documentary Breakthrough: The Age of Ageing, Dr Jay Olshansky, of the University of Illinois Chicago, said: “If we can slow ageing in humans, even by just a little bit it would be monumental. People could be older, and feel young.
“Enough advancements in ageing science have been made to lead us to believe it’s plausible, it’s possible, it’s been done for other species and there is every reason to believe it could be done in us.
“This would be the most important medical intervention in the modern era, an ability to slow ageing.”