Friday, January 22, 2016

Metformin's newfound benefits

Recently the drug metformin, used to treat type 2 diabetes, has been found to have some unintended benefits.  Studies were announced months ago that found metformin protects against aging in roundworms and mice, and could even make 120 years the new human life expectancy.  They'll be doing studies on humans in the U.S. to find out if the same is true for people.

I intended to blog about it back then, but I got busy and it slipped my mind... and then this new headline popped up.

Now, in addition to the potential anti-aging properties of the drug, researchers have found that the drug can slow the progression of pancreatic cancer in overweight patients.

"We found that metformin alleviates desmoplasia - an accumulation of dense connective tissue and tumor-associated immune cells that is a hallmark of pancreatic cancer - by inhibiting the activation of the pancreatic stellate cells that produce the extracellular matrix and by reprogramming immune cells to reduce inflammation," says Dai Fukumura, MD, PhD, of the Steele Laboratory of Tumor Biology in the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology, the study's co-senior author. "We also found these effects only evident in tumors from overweight or obese individuals, who appear to have tumors with increased fibrosis."
Is metformin really the anti-aging drug that people have been craving for -- well, basically for as long as civilization can remember?  I'm a little skeptical, especially given that all drugs have (usually unwanted) side effects, but we'll see what the studies reveal.

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