When we think of signs of aging, most look to outward appearance. But Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists have their minds on what’s happening inside our cells — and whether a diabetes drug may slow it.
OMRF physiologist Benjamin Miller, Ph.D., is investigating the potential of metformin, the world’s most-prescribed diabetes medication, to slow the biological process of aging. His team is seeking research volunteers ages 40-75 without chronic disease to join the ongoing study.
Aging is a leading risk factor for diseases from cancer and cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer’s and dementia. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the effects of aging and may slow or prevent these and other chronic conditions. But, said Miller, “whether because of physical ability or another factor, they aren’t possible for everyone.”
Many people find diets and exercise challenging, so there are ongoing searches for medications that may mimic those effects. Miller’s study aims to identify who may benefit from metformin treatment and why some people are better targets for this alternative.
“Our research only moves forward with the help of people willing to participate in research,” said Miller, who leads OMRF’s Aging and Metabolism Research Program.
Edmond resident Tamera Joy decided to volunteer for Miller’s study so she could have a positive impact on global health.
“Increasing healthy lifespan is inspiring to me, and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Joy.
Volunteers will first undergo a health screening. If enrolled, participants’ visits during the 12-week study may include blood tests, muscle biopsies, bone density scans and insulin sensitivity tests. The study will take place at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma City.
Though she maintains a busy schedule, Joy said fitting in the visits to contribute to the study was “doggone easy” for a cause as worthy as increasing the opportunity for health for America’s aging population.
“It’s been fun and informative,” Joy said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The study is focused on participants with higher-than-normal blood sugar, a body mass index above 30, or who are not physically active. Volunteers also cannot be taking glucose-lowering agents. To participate or for more information, visit www.omrf.org/metformin or contact Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources at 405-271-3480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding for the clinical trial is provided by grant No. R01AG064951 from the National Institute on Aging, a part of the National Institutes of Health.