How to Die Young at an Old Age.
A most inspiring TEDx talk of Dr. Nir Barzilai, (video posted below) co-founder of CohBar, Inc., a biotech company developing mitochondria based therapeutics to treat diseases associated with aging, as well director of the Longevity Genes Project, a genetics study of over 600 families of centenarians and their children.
The accomplished geneticist wants people to know that there’s a way to extend their healthspan without breaking the bank.
For Dr. Barzilai, who is also a NY practicing Endocrinologist, anti-aging has been a lifetime pursuit. Growing up in Israel he saw first hand how his grandfather despite his old age, and unlike many other old people, was able to live a very productive life.
This inspired Dr. Barzilai to seek ways to delay aging, specifically to extend one’s healthspan.
There’s a big difference between extending a person’s lifespan to extending one’s healthspan. Life can be prolonged, but shadowed by weakness and disease.
Extending one’s healthspan means that a person enjoys a longer period of youth and strength with longer period of immunity to the many illnesses of aging. Alzheimer’s for instance, is one of the most feared diseases among aging people. It can even afflict the young. According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International, the problem is very serious with one person getting demented every 3 seconds.
Dr. Barzilai, who also serves as Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, thinks there’s a cheap but effective drug that can help mankind to attain extended healthspan.
And that drug is Metformin. A five-cent pill that’s commonly prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes.
What drew Dr. Barzilai’s interest and enthusiasm to this drug?
Metformin comes from a plant called, Galega officinalis, which is also known as French lilac and goat’s rue. It’s been used as an herbal remedy for centuries.
According to the writings of 17th century renowned English herbalist John Parkinson, the plant’s effective for “the bitings or stings of any venomous creature,” “the plague,” “measells,” “small pocks,” and “wormes in children,” and other health problems.
In our modern times, Metformin has shown the following remarkable efficacy:
- It’s an FDA-approved treatment for diabetes without serious side effects and also prescribed occasionally for prediabetes.
- Based on a 2014 research, patients who had been taking Metformin were healthier than those who took other diabetes medicines. They had longer healthspan and were less likely to be afflicted by Alzehimer’s and other forms of dementia. It was also found out that cancer risk among these patients taking Metformin was 20 up to 40 percent less compared to those diabetics treated with different drugs. And even if they developed cancer, they still outlived those cancer-stricken diabetics who were not treated with Metformin. This prompted Lewis Cantley, Director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, to say, “Metformin may have already saved more people from cancer deaths than any drug in history.”
- Metformin is also a drug that’s been already prescribed off-label as treatment for acne, polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Following Metformin’s proven benefits, Dr. Barzilai and his colleagues decided that it was time to come up with a clinical trial that would focus on a specific anti-aging drug. After a scientific discussion held in Spain, they decided on a project called Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME). It’s a trial that would test whether Metformin could really extend a person’s healthspan while delaying the onset of diseases like cardiovascular ones, cancer, and cognitive impairment.
If TAME succeeds, and chances are it most probably will given that studies have shown that Metformin can delay aging in animals, pointing to the likelihood that the drug may have the ability to influence fundamental aging factors in humans, it “will open the door to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of aging as an indicator..”, according to the American Federation for Aging Research.
More importantly, though, a possible FDA approval will pave the way for the agency to finally consider aging a “modifiable condition and an official “indication” for which treatments can be developed and approved.”