A San Antonio researcher wants to know if two medicines many people already take could improve people's quality of life as they age.
The drugs are Metformin and Acarbose, two medications routinely prescribed for diabetes. Texas Biomedical Research Institute Associate Professor Corrina Ross and her team recently published a pilot study on the safety of the two medicines when given to marmosets at the Southwest Primate Research Center. The researchers concluded they were.
Now Ross hopes to study whether the medicines have anti-aging effects on marmosets.
Ross said the non-human primates are perfect for this type of study.
“They are closely related to humans,” Ross said. “But they offer a lot of advantages because they’re small and they develop and age more rapidly than the bigger primates, like macaques and baboons.”
Because a year in the life of a marmoset is more like a dog year, Ross said, they age far more quickly than humans and you can see the impact — or lack of impact — of an anti-aging medicine far more quickly than in a slower aging primate. That means the studies can be shorter.
Ross would like to answer several questions about during the course of her proposed study.
"Whether these pharmaceuticals help these animals maintain heart health, liver health, kidney health and cognition and normal behavior and locomotion as they age," Ross said.
Ross isn't really interested in whether the medicines make the marmosets live longer.
“Instead I want individuals who are aging healthy at 80 and 90 and can be independently living, so that’s the type of thing we’re looking for in these pharmaceuticals,” Ross said. “It’s whether it helps the animals maintain independence.”
Ross’s pilot study was published in the journal Pathobiology of Aging and Age-related Diseases. Now she’s seeking federal funding for the anti-aging study.
Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@TPR.org and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie.