However, the drug which will be tested, metformin, is not new; it has already been widely prescribed for use in treating diabetes. Scientists have managed to demonstrate that metformin extends the life of animals during trials, and the US Food and Drug Administration has agreed to let experiments begin on people.
If the outcome of the tests is favorable, usage of the drug could extend human lifespans, allowing older people to feel twenty years younger.
Gordon Lithgow, a professor from the California-based Buck Institute for Research on Ageing, said that the new treatment would inevitably impact the pace at which diseases take root.
"If you target an ageing process and you slow down ageing then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of ageing as well," Lithgow said.
The researcher called the idea of slowing down the ageing process revolutionary, adding that it has "never happened before."
"I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable," he said.
He underscored that mankind has never been so close to unveiling the secret of the aging process and prolonging lives.
"But there is every reason to believe it's possible. The future is taking the biology that we've now developed and applying it to humans."
Some marine animals that don't age or become ill with the passage of time confirm that it's possible for organisms to exist in virtual perpetuity. As in other animals, our DNA is able to keep our body functioning by dividing and replicating itself whenever one of our cells does via mitosis. However, throughout our life, as billions of cells divide, more and more diseases emerge as bits of DNA known as telomeres are shortened whenever mitosis occurs, making cells more likely to mutate and become cancerous.
Researchers claim that with metformin, people would live longer as the drug increases the number of oxygen molecules released into a cell.
Numerous tests in Belgium and the UK have inspired scientists to launch a clinical trial, Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME), in the US next winter. The group of international researchers has combined efforts to raise funds and attract 3,000 people between the ages of 70 and 80 who are currently afflicted with or at risk of developing cancer, heart disease and dementia.
It remains unknown whether the side effects of metformin such as headaches, abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence and other gastrointestinal problems will be experienced by clinical trial participants or not.
If the test results seen in animals can be replicated in humans, we could see a jump in human lifespans within our own lifetimes.