3 Ways To Stay Young, Part 2: Anti-aging Drugs, Supplements and Human Trials
Anti-aging drugs and supplements — two of each category and three going to human trials — a rare event. Read what they are and when you might benefit from them.
LAST WEEK in Part 1, I wrote about Dr. Michael Roizen’s selection of the three most significant things you can do to live youthfully, which pretty much means to slow down the aging process. Then the discussion turned to the value these three strategies may have in getting us across the “First Bridge”.
The First Bridge is part of inventor, futurist and author Ray Kurzweil’s conception of how extreme longevity for human beings will unfold. This bridge is crossable right now through the use of currently available tools and methods, which I’m writing about and will be presented at Ageproof.me someday before — but close to — when hell freezes.
The first leads to the Second Bridge in Kuzweil’s model. If you’ve stayed alive and healthy enough by the time this bridge is constructed, all sorts of medical interventions will be available to help you across it, such biological enhancements at the cellular and genetic levels through the use of gene therapy, stem cells, therapeutic cloning and replacement cells, tissues and organs. These therapies, Kurweil thinks, will enable us to turn back our biological clocks.
Finally, Ray Kuzweil says the Second Bridge will lead to the Third Bridge, and he envisions swarms of specialized, programmable, communicating nanobots that will replace old-fashioned neurons and blood cells. Such nanobots will be able to destroy infections, reverse degenerative changes and rewrite genetic code. In effect, this will be a merger of nanotech and artificial intelligence, he says.
Of course, the timeline for such monumental events waver. You’d think that the Second Bridge would not be complete until a decade or more. That might be true, but it seems you just might be able to begin your journey across it before it’s finished!
In this article, you’ll learn about:
- The two potential anti-aging pharmaceutical drugs scheduled for human trials (a most unusual thing); and
- Two nutritional supplements making big anti-aging claims, one you’ll hafta wait for, the other available now.
Let’s begin with (wo)man’s best friend…
Two Drugs Go To Human Trial
For a pharmaceutical company to pay the millions of dollars to put a drug through human trial underscores its believe that whatever they’re testing has a good chance to work as designed.
With Rapamycin and Metformin, you have the strange situation whereby two currently FDA-approved and widely used drugs — that have passed human trials already — are now being re-purposed as potential anti-aging drugs and thus must go through human trials again.
Let’s begin with Rapamycin.
#1 Rapamycin, Not Just For Dogs
Rapamycin is going to the dogs! The mice are happy, because in the good ole days, only they were picked on. But the humans are jealous — they have to wait till their best friends have a taste.
It seems this has been happening quickly. It was only a few months ago that I wrote about the anti-aging promise of Rapamycin, an immune-suppressing drug used to for organ transplant patients. In that article, I presented a summary of research indicating that mice taking Rapamycin experienced a 30% increase in lifespan.
A significant improvement in lifespan happened even when the drug was administered late in life. Male mice given Rapamycin at an age equivalent to a 60-year old human increased their lifespan by almost 10% and females by 15%.
These results make scientist swoon, even if only – initially – they pertain to mice. As I wrote in Part 1, this is because “these little creatures [have] biological and behavior characteristics [that] closely resemble those of humans, and many symptoms of human conditions can be replicated in them.”
Same thing with dogs. As is now perfectly clear, Rapamycin studies are now underway with dogs.
Amy Harmon’s recent New York Times article recently reported that someone named Lynn Gemmell has an eight-year-old dog named Bella who was inducted into the Rapamycin dog study last year. Now, her dog park friend’s exclaim, “Bella has turned back into a puppy”.
Could be, but any unproven anti-aging drug may have some unsavory downsides. There’s a chance it could do more harm than good. This potential in indisputable, but as Harmon’s article underscored,
“… the trial represents a new frontier in testing a proposition for improving human health: Rather than only seeking treatments for the individual maladies that come with age, we might do better to target the biology that underlies aging itself.”
Ms. Harmon went on to report some characteristics of the Rapamycin dog study, to wit:
- The 40 dogs that participated in the Rapamycin trial had to be at least 6 years old and weigh at least 40 pounds.
- Like Lynn Gemmell’s dog, Bela, whose cholesterol was high, many of them were showing signs of aging: loose skin, graying muzzles, a stiffness in the joints.
- The study just concluded its pilot run in Seattle, is expected to expand into a larger study with dogs and if the results there are promising, onto humans.
In her article published in MIT Technology Review, Faye Flam gives us a sense on how Rapamycin may work to slow down or reverse the aging process.
In laymen terms, aging is a process of degradation. Things wear out. This happens at the cellular level and what happens there is splendidly displayed in our phenotype; meaning, how we look.
You can blame such things on damaged DNA, misfolded proteins, and excessive inflammation for how we basically just wear out, like a clutch. (Those grinding gears are just our knee joints.)
Though, so far, this degeneration can’t be altogether stopped, it can be slowed down. One sure-fire way to do this is to restrict calories.
Yes, what a killjoy thing to say.
I know… you rather just pop a pill.
Well, remember, we are investigating Rapamycin for this very pill-popping reason.
Rapamycin and other drugs that appear to slow aging in animals work by triggering the same biochemical pathway that does caloric restriction. The idea says Harvard Medical School researcher Dr. David Sinclair, is to trick the body into acting as if it’s running out of energy and putting more effort into long-term survival.
That’s where the no food comes into play, and although Rapamycin may soon go to human trials to test its anti-aging efficacy, you may have to wait a few years before you get the green light and can take it safely.
In the meantime, there’s always Intermittent Fasting. Read my article, Why Intermittent Fasting Is Your Ticket To A Long and Healthy Life. Note: it’s a lot easier than eating less at every meal, but has the same beneficial effects.
#2 Metformin Has The Edge (it seems)
Metformin is another drug that’s being re-purposed that I previously wrote about. Traditionally used to help diabetics, Metformin has become a potential anti-aging drug, and it seems it’s on the fast track for human trials.
Whilst Rapamycin needs to prove it can make puppies out of grizzled old dogs before it can be tested on humans, Metformin gets to do that sometime this year (2016) if on schedule.
Researchers have already proven that the diabetes drug extends the life of animals, and the US Food and Drug Administration has green-lighted a trial to see if the same effects can be replicated in humans.
Sarah Knapton, Science Editor of The Telegraph, gives us a snapshot of what to expect in her article, World’s first anti-ageing drug could see humans live to 120.
The first thing that caught my eye in her article was a quote by the esteemed Dr. Jay Olshansky author of Quest for Immortality and Aging: The Longevity Dividend. Dr. Olsansky has a reputation for eviscerating unpromising, poorly designed experiments and so when he says this…
“This would be the most important medical intervention in the modern era, an ability to slow ageing.”
… it’s worthy of our attention.
Ms. Knapton goes on to tell us that if the Metformin human studies are successful it could mean that a person in their 70s would be as biologically healthy as a 50-year-old, and begin a new era of ‘geroscience’ where doctors would no longer struggle with cancer, diabetes and dementia, but instead treat the underlying mechanism – aging.
This sentiment is underscored by Scottish aging expert Professor Gordon Lithgow, now at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California (just a hop, skip and a jump north of my Sausalito home) and one of the study advisors.
Professor Lithgow said:
If you target an ageing process and you slow down ageing then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of ageing as well. That’s revolutionary. That’s never happened before.
I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been though inconceivable. But there is every reason to believe it’s possible.
The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans. 20 years ago ageing was a biological mystery. Now we are starting to understand what is going on.
OK, fine, but why the excitement over Metformin?
- Scientists think Metformin may be the best candidate for an anti-aging drug because it increases the number of oxygen molecules released into a cell, which appears to boost robustness and longevity.
- Metformin is safe given that it’s the world’s most widely used diabetes drug.
- It’s cheap, just six cents per pill.
- Mice treated with Metformin increased their lifespan by nearly 40% and their bones became stronger.
- Last year Cardiff University found that when patients with diabetes were given the Metformin lived longer than others without the condition, even though they should have died eight years earlier on average.
Given all that, it’s unsurprising that a new clinical trial called Targeting Aging with Metformin, or TAME, is scheduled to begin in the U.S. this winter, 2016. The intention is to recruit 3,000 people aged from 70 to 80 who have, or are risk of, cancer, heart disease and dementia. The aim is to demonstrate that Metformin can slow the ageing process and stop disease.
Back to Dr. Olshansky:
“If we can slow ageing in humans, even by just a little bit it would be monumental. People could be older, and feel young.”
Enough advancements in ageing science have been made to lead us to believe it’s plausible, it’s possible, it’s been done for other species and there is every reason to believe it could be done in us.
Thus, what we have here are two pharmaceutical drugs going to human trials. If successful, Rapamycin and Metformin may be the first two drugs available to help us cross the Second Bridge.
In the meantime, what’s directly in front of us is Ray Kuzweil’s First Bridge and some of us are limping along trying to get across it. Could it be that Elysium’s Basis and a forthcoming supplement mix from Bioverty’s could help?
Let’s move from anti-aging drugs to supplements. Next up, two highly-touted anti-aging supplements.
Two Supplements Draw A Line In the Sand
In the case of the two supplements we’re about to dig into a bit, one has not done human trials and is already a very popular anti-aging supplement. The other has some street cred, if that’s achievable by boasting done by the scientists that will do the study, the results of which we’ll be ignorant about for perhaps two years.
#1. Basis Is About Energy, Basically
As with Rapamycin and Metformin, I’ve written before about a supplement called “Basis” made by a company named “Elysium Health”. Lately, this article, Can Elysium’s “Basis” Pill Really Make You Younger?, has been the most popular on this website.
I’m thinking that people wanna pop an anti-aging supplement into their youthful mouths.
Right on the cover of the Basis bottle, it says, “Metabolic Repair & Optimization”.
Why focus on metabolic stuff?
A study in Science Direct reports that:
“During the last 20 years, gerontological studies have revealed different molecular pathways involved in the ageing process and pointed out mitochondria as one of the key regulators of longevity.”
One reason for this seems to be the central role that mitochondria have in energy metabolism. It is within these mitochondrial organelles that the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur.
Turns out that one of the main ingredients in Basis, Nicotinamide Riboside (“NR”) is the most direct precursor to Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (“NAD+”), a coenzyme found in all cells.
(In biology, a precursor is a chemical that is transformed into another compound, typically during a chemical reaction. For instance, cholesterol is a precursor of testosterone.)
Elysium, the maker of Basis, claims that,
“NR is the most readily usable and effective building block for creating more NAD+ inside the cell. NAD+ plays a crucial role in regulating core metabolic functions including cell function, DNA repair and energy production. NAD+ supplies decline naturally with age, thus reducing a cell’s ability to function optimally and potentially impacting baseline health.”
So, keeping mitochondria healthy keeps cellular metabolism healthy and, thereby, you.
And that’s why Japan News reports (via rt.com) that Researchers at Keio University and Washington University in St. Louis are set to begin the first clinical trials on humans of yet another Nicotinamide — Nicotinamide mononucleotide (“NMN”), which is also a precursor of NAD+.
Some scientists believe in the potential of these various Nicotinamides to extend human life. Experiments on mice showed that the compound has the ability to counter the declines in metabolism, eyesight and glucose intolerance, which becomes prominent when we get older. It was also found that the Nicotinamides activated proteins called sirtuins, whose production decreases due to the aging process.
The human trial is scheduled to begin in August, 2016 and I have no idea how long it will take or what the results will be. In the meantime, if all these sounds good to you, check out Basis or Niagen by High Performance Nutrition, although it doesn’t contain the second ingredient in Basis, which I have yet to mention – Pterostilbene.
Click here to learn about Pterostilbene.
Pterostilbene is a polyphenol shown to improve metabolic health in lab studies. Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants that comprise over 4,000 species, and are found naturally in blueberries and grapes.
Pterostilibene is similar to resveratrol, that grape “extract” found in red wine that has been heralded as a longevity promoter. Recent studies suggest that Pterostilibene is actually superior to Resveratrol, which might sadden Dr. Sinclair, as he also was one of a team of scientists who discovered that Resveratrol, a molecule in red wine, can “stick to this protein that controls ageing and makes it more active”, he said.
#2 A Marriage Between McMaster and BioVerty Bears What?
I chuckle at how Monica Beyer began her anti-aging supplement article in Thrillist.com. She wrote:
“If someone told you there was a pill you could buy that would add years to your life, you’d probably say, ‘Thanks, but I haven’t financially recovered from my last pyramid scheme yet.’”
Given that I’ve taken scores of different supplements for the last 40 years and have no proof that they’re doing anything good since my clone refuses to participate in a life-long, double-blind study of two — maybe I’ve been living most of my life in a pyramid.
Well, hope springs eternal and I hope researchers at McMaster University aren’t smoking something that Canada may soon make legal. According to Ms. Beyer, McMaster researchers say they’ve created the ultimate supplement designed to add years to your life, lucky person.
Gullible as I am when it comes to supplements, I don’t know if I buy this, because their formula seems to be a common mix of 30 vitamins, minerals, green stuff and fish oil. They don’t reveal the exact formula and ratios.
Could that be the magic?
McMaster and friends are putting money on that magic, because they’re going to put their supplement to the ultimate test, human trials (and a very expensive endeavor – one reason why Elysium has not tested Basis on people). Dr. Jennifer Lemon is heading the study and she thinks a bunch of fairly common nutritional vitamins and compounds are sufficient to have a favorable impact on healthy aging.
The idea that supplements and vitamins might delay the ravages of time isn’t novel, but no strong results have been shown, not even in mice. Studies have previously looked into how B complex vitamins may work together with omega-3 fatty acids to slow down brain atrophy rates. Vitamin C has likewise been examined for its brain benefits, as has vitamin D, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids on their own.
Nothing new here.
But Dr. Lemon points out a difference — how these ingredients work together on the brain. She said:
“We now have a pretty good understanding of how the supplement protects the brain and body in both normal aging and neurodegenerative conditions.”
I wish her and her team much success, but you don’t have to wait the approximately two years for BioVerty to produce the anti-aging goods. As Dr. Lemon advises, if you like your brain, you probably shouldn’t sit around like a lump of dough, even if you’re still young.
“There is lots of evidence that generally people have fewer issues as they age if they are physically active, do activities that keep their minds sharp (i.e., reading, puzzles, hobbies, learning new things, etc.), and eat well,” she says.
Yeah, you knew that already.
Are you doing it?
Would you take a pill to live longer and healthier? Click here.
This article distills down to this:
- Ensure you’re supplementing with whatever you think your body needs. If you hardly ever eat vegetables, use a high quality green mix. If you don’t spend hours a day outside, supplement with Vitamin D3. If you eat a lot of processed food, supplement with fiber and a good vitamin/mineral mix (for men/for women).
- If you have $50/month to spend, try Basis. I took it for about six months. Stopped two months ago. Will go on it again in a month or so. Can’t verify if made any positive difference.
- If you’re overweight try Intermittent Fasting. I do it at least five days a week and find it easy once you get the hang of it.
- Get physically active, but first continue sitting on your rump for an hour and check out this six part series I wrote. That’ll get you started.
My final entreaty is to encourage you to subscribe to my weekly Newsletter so you can be updated about the latest and greatest news and methods to live your long and strong life.