Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Exploring the potential of metformin in population longevity

Shiu Lun Ryan Au Yeung, BSc, MPH, PhD; Shan Luo, BMed, MPH, PhD; Ian CK Wong, B.Pharm, MSc, PhD; C Mary Schooling, MA, MSc

Competition Sponsor: The Chinese University of Hong Kong and The University of Hong Kong

Metformin, a first line medication for type 2 diabetes in the general population, has substantial potential for promoting healthy aging since it activates AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK), a key player in the anti-aging signalling pathway. However, existing approaches to investigate this hypothesis, such as studies of the oldest old and pharmacoepidemiologic studies are subjected to various degree of biases. To circumvent these limitations in previous studies, we will use genomics relevant to metformin actions in UK Biobank to interrogate the potentials of metformin in promoting healthy aging, with telomere length as an objective proxy. If the potential effect of metformin in longevity is genetically validated, this can provide stronger grounds in assessing the role of metformin in longevity using randomized controlled trials. If metformin was found to promote healthy aging, this would revolutionize current clinical practice given metformin is a highly affordable, well established medication with a good safety profile, and hence can substantially facilitate the use of the medication to improve aging compared to other investigational drugs.

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