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Anti-diabetic drug slows ageing and lengthens lifespan

By Tim Sandle     Jun 3, 2014 in Science
Brussels - A study provides evidence that metformin, the world’s most widely used anti-diabetic drug, slows ageing and increases lifespan.
Scientists have concluded that the drug metformin causes an increase in the number of toxic oxygen molecules released in the cell and this, surprisingly, increases cell robustness and longevity in the long term causes an increase in the number of toxic oxygen molecules released in the cell and this increases cell robustness and longevity in the long term. Metformin is an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes.
While these molecules are harmful because they can damage proteins and DNA and disrupt normal cell functioning, a small dose can actually do the cell good: provided that the amount of harmful oxygen molecules released in the cell remains small.
Studies show that metformin causes a slight increase in the number of harmful oxygen molecules. This seems to makes cells stronger and extends their healthy lifespan. To reach this conclusion scientists studied metformin’s mechanism in the tiny roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. This presented an ideal species for studying ageing because it has a lifespan of only three weeks. Furthermore, as they age, the worms get smaller, wrinkle up and become less mobile.
The study showed that worms treated with metformin show very limited size loss and no wrinkling. They not only aged slower, but they also stayed healthier longer.
Whilst the work is interesting, no studies have yet been performed on humans and it is uncertain whether the same effect will be seen. Nevertheless, the research to date suggests that it is worthwhile to study the relationship between metformin and cell aging further.
The study was carried out by Belgian doctoral researcher Wouter De Haes (KU Leuven) and colleagues. The findings have been reported to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper is titled “Metformin promotes lifespan through mitohormesis via the peroxiredoxin PRDX-2.”
More about Antidiabetic, type 2 diabetes, Drug, Lifespan, metformin
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