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Can Humans Extend Their Lives By 30 Years with Anti-Aging Drugs?

Jul 08, 2016 03:15 AM EDT
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Has the first human being who will live to 150 already been born? Back in 2000, anti-aging researcher Steven Austad bet another academic real money that someone born that year would live to see 2150. New anti-aging drugs that may soon come out may help him win his bet.

Austad made the wager with gerontologist S. Jay Olshansky, and they pooled $300 into an investment account that will not pay off until 2150, when the $300 will have ballooned to an estimated $500 million - a fortune that will go to the winner's descendants. Mainebiz caught up with Austad at an anti-aging conference and found him waxing optimistic that the odds were in his favor.

"The average life expectancy in the United States is 79 now. It would need to be 103.4 in 2150 for that one person to reach 150," said Austad, who went on to clarify that he considered that to be a realistic prospect.
There's reason to believe that Austad is right. Scientists have already managed to greatly expand the lifespans of animals in the laboratory in a number of different drug trials. Still, the bigger test is yet to come, and the question is, will drugs that work for mice prove similarly effective in humans?

Among the more promising drugs to fight aging are metformin and nicotinamide riboside. Metformin is already in common use as a drug to treat Type II diabetes, but researchers have observed that it has effects that may be able to slow aging in humans.

The Albany Daily Star says a Cardiff University study has found that diabetics on metformin live eight years longer (on average) than non-diabetics, adding: "Its effect on the body is to release more oxygen into cells, which is believed to increase both their durability and longevity."

Metformin research on lab mice has shown that the drug can lengthen their lives by as much as 40 percent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an upcoming clinical trial, Targeting Aging With Metformin (TAME), that will be conducted on 3,000 persons of ages 70 to 80.

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is another drug that may aid human longevity. Wired reports that it is already attracting controversy for being an ingredient in the "Basis" dietary supplement made by the company Elysium - which has yet to conclude trials to test the drug's efficacy in humans.

That aside, research has shown that NR has the ability to revitalize stem cells in mice, leading to better cell regeneration in their muscle tissue, according to a EurekAlert article from the école Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Such a restorative effect may safeguard the body against the aging process.

EPFL professor Johan Auwerx, M.D., Ph.D., led the team that worked on the NR research. He says in the article, "We are not talking about introducing foreign substances into the body but rather restoring the body's ability to repair itself with a product that can be taken with food."

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