In 2013, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) claimed to have formulated a drug that could help slow down the aging process using a compound called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). And indeed, the compound has been found to reverse signs of aging and extend the life expectancy...of mice.
To date, such methods haven't been tested in humans; however, that's all about to change.
Now, it will be tested on humans to see if the results will be as good and as safe. The trial will be conducted next month by Keio University in japan with ten healthy volunteers.
So how does it work? NMN stimulates the production of sirtuins, a class of proteins that grow weaker as we age. So the team is not talking about jars of cosmetic products that you slap on your face in an attempt to look younger. This drug reverses, not just external signs of aging, but internal symptoms as well, including decline in eyesight, metabolism, and glucose intolerance.
"We've confirmed a remarkable effect in the experiment using mice, but it's not clear yet how much [the compound] will affect humans," lead researcher Shin-ichiro Imai said. "We'll carefully conduct the study, which I hope will result in important findings originating in Japan."
Anti-aging products are a topic of interest in Japan, where 40% of the population will be over 65 years old by 2055.
Other anti-aging drugs are also in development, some of which were discovered as side effects of drugs originally intended for other purposes.
Last year, an experimental Alzheimer’s drug was found to have unexpected anti-aging effects. Anti-diabetes medication Metformin has also been recently found to have anti-aging properties (though the exact effectiveness of these treatments is still being researched).
To date, there are no proven ways to delay the human aging process. But NMN could be the first anti-aging drug to be allowed in the market, if proven effective and safe. However, as is always the case, there is a long window between research and the development of new treatments. Regulatory approval is, in itself, generally a decade long process, and this doesn’t even take into consideration all the other clinical trials that are necessary prior to approval.
Still, the information will, at the very least, adds new information to our understanding of this drug and the process of aging.