1st 'true' anti-aging drug seeks human subjects

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A promising compound which has been shown to significantly slow the aging process in mice might be tried on humans as early as next month, scientists say. If the trials work out well it would be the first genuine anti-aging drug to appear on the markets.

According to Japan News, Researchers at Keio University and Washington University in St. Louis are set to begin first clinical trials of the compound known as nicotinamide mono nucleotide (NMN), previously tested on mice.

NMN is a substance produced within the bodies of living things which may be also found in a variety of food products, such as milk.

Scientists believe in NMN’s potential to extend human life as experiments on mice showed that the compound has the ability to counter the declines in metabolism, eyesight and glucose intolerance which come into play as we get older. It was also found that the compound activated proteins called sirtuins, whose production decreases due to the aging process.

If the scientists’ plan to test the drug on humans is approved by Keio University’s Research Ethics Committee, the new drug will be given to 10 healthy volunteers as early as next month.

“We’ve confirmed a remarkable effect in the experiment using mice, but it’s not clear yet how much [the compound] will affect humans,” Professor Shinichiro Imai of Washington University said, as cited by Japan News.

“We’ll carefully conduct the study, which I hope will result in important findings originating in Japan.”

Although scientists express great hope that the substance will work as an elixir of life, it is not exactly clear how the compound will behave when applied to humans.

“The age-retarding effect of NMN has been only detected in such animals as mice. It’s necessary to carefully inspect the effects [of the substance],” said Professor Daisuke Koya of Kanazawa Medical University, an expert in the aging process, Japan News reports.

According to Japan News, if proven safe and efficient in clinical trials, the drug is most likely to be distributed as a product similar to ‘food with functional claims.’

The study comes at a time when the Japanese population continues to age and birth rates are down.

Starting next fiscal year the Japanese government promised to increase investments into anti-aging studies and offer full-fledged support to the research.

NMN is not the only anti-aging drug being examined by scientists. Last year the experimental Alzheimer's drug J147 was discovered to have anti-aging effects on mice. Clinical trials of the diabetes drug metformin are also planned for this year.