Will The FDA Approve This Antiaging Drug?

The dream of some sort of pill that puts off death has haunted humanity for millennia, but we're getting close (as if we haven't thought that before).

[Nir} Barzilai wants to convince the FDA to put its seal of approval on an antiaging drug for the rest of us: A cheap, generic, demonstrably safe pharmaceutical that has already shown, in a host of preliminary studies, that it may be able to help stave off many of the worst parts of growing old.

The drug in question, metformin, costs about five cents a pill. It’s a slightly modified version of a compound that was discovered in a plant, Galega officinalis. The plant, also known as French lilac and goat’s rue, is hardly the stuff of cutting-edge science. Physicians have been prescribing it as an herbal remedy for centuries. In 1640, the great English herbalist John Parkinson wrote about goat’s rue in his life’s work, Theatrum Botanicum, recommending it for “the bitings or stings of any venomous creature,” “the plague,” “measells,” “small pocks,” and “wormes in children,” among other conditions.

The more researchers learn about metformin, the more it can seem like a medieval wonder drug poised for a 21st century resurgence...

Science fiction authors have not been reticent about writing down their dreams in this direction. Many science fiction fans have enjoyed the version that James Blish used in his epic tetralogy Cities in Flight:

"...What we want now is something much more direct: an antitoxin against the ageing toxin of humans. We know that the ageing toxin exists in all complex animals. We know that it's a single, specific substance, quite distinct from the poisons that cause the degenerative diseases. And we know that it can be neutralized."

"So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug..."
(Read more about anti-agathics)

I don't doubt that readers also have their favorites. Fans of Kurt Vonnegut fondly remember anti-gerasone from his impish 1954 short story Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.

Via Wired.

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