The Origins of Metformin and Where It’s GoingFor diabetic purposes, metformin helps return blood sugar to normal levels. Essentially, it decreases the amount of sugar your body absorbs from food. But metformin’s root is in a plant called French lilac. This plant, also known as goat’s rue, has been used for centuries for its medicinal purposes outside of diabetes—a disease not exactly known in the 1600s. Over time, patients who have been prescribed metformin to treat diabetes as opposed to other leading treatments have also experienced an overall healthier life, living longer and having a decreased likelihood of suffering from maladies like:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- Dietary (eating better)
- Cosmetic (surgery to change)
- Physical activity (working out more)
- Blood transfusions (replacing older blood with blood from younger, healthier humans)
The Hope Associated With MetforminAccording to TAME’s website, the study, if it proves the drug really has anti-aging qualities, could open the door for an entire industry of research and drug development for anti-aging. “We MUST do the trial first which will open the door to FDA approval of aging as an indicator, as well as to the development of new drugs that will target aging,” the site explained. Then, anti-aging drugs can be classified as treating a disease and thus ultimately covered by insurance. “Within five minutes” of a meeting with the FDA, “we were all in complete agreement that this is plausible” and that researching the effects of metformin is “a good idea,” said S. Jay Olshansky, one of Barzilai’s colleagues. The TAME study will include “approximately 3,000 men and women between the ages of 65 and 79 at 14 centers across the country” over the course of five years. The study costs nearly $70 million and is being partly funded by the National Institutes of Health. “What we really are after is the ability of metformin to delay age-related disease” like cancer and cardiovascular disease, Barzilai said in a NBC Today profile. He pointed out that if metformin can be proven to combat those age-related diseases by two to three years, then that could save Americans up to $7 trillion in healthcare costs by 2050. Barzilai’s work has become so recognized, it’s earned him an invitation to the Vatican—twice. In 2016, Barzilai visited the papal location for a conference on cellular therapies, and it was attended by the likes of the Pope and former Vice President Joe Biden. He brought his research—and his plans for future development—to the conference in search of funding, but he didn’t quite get the opportunity to ask for it, according to the WIRED. The industry of aging research has, though. The industry has seen investments from the likes of Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos and Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The money flowing into the industry is a good sign for Barzalai and his research (he must be doing something right), and for Americans as a whole. Many of these drugs can turn out to be very affordable, too. Metformin costs just 5 cents per pill, and that’s cheaper than almost any prescription drug out there. This plays in wonderfully to Americans health concerns, as they may eventually be able to maximize their healthy years.
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Patients who have been prescribed metformin to treat diabetes as opposed to other leading treatments have also experienced an overall healthier life, living longer and having a decreased likelihood of suffering from maladies.