Anti-aging study using Type 2 diabetes drug attracts seniors worldwide

Dive Brief:

  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine's director of the Institute of Aging Research, Nir Barzilai, is preparing to start an anti-aging study using metformin - a generic medication for Type 2 diabetes in 3,000 seniors between the ages of 65 and 79 across 14 U.S. aging centers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Thousands of seniors worldwide are clamoring to be chosen for the study, which will determine if the drug can postpone or prevent diseases related to advanced age like heart disease, cognitive decline, and cancer.
  • U.S. researchers are hoping to raise $64 million to fund the study since no pharmaceutical company is involved. 

Dive Insight:

Medical researchers usually have to entice volunteers to participate in clinical studies. S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health involved in the study, told the Wall Street Journal, "Clearly we have tapped into something that is fundamental to humanity."

"We're talking about the most valuable commodity on earth: life itself," he added. 

The interest in metformin coincides with research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is also testing ways to postpone or prevent debilitating and costly health conditions, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Researchers are searching for target pathways to find defects on the molecular level that trigger chronic disease or death, according to Rafael de Cabo, chief of NIH's Translational Gerontology Branch. 

Metformin is attractive for a clinical study because it has very little to no side effects. In addition, a large 2014 study in the U.K. found that older diabetics taking metformin lived longer on average than their healthier peers. 

A Kaiser Family Foundation 2015 report said the U.S. population ages 65 and older will double between 2010 and 2050 and the population ages 80 and older will nearly triple and those in the 90s and 100s will quadruple. This, the report authors said, has big implications for future Medicare spending since beneficiaries ages 80 and older account for a disproportionate share of Medicare expenditures. 

Filed Under: Hospital Administration Practice Management
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