What if a pill could diminish the naturally degenerative effects of aging? It might sound like science fiction, but the United States Military is now testing such a pill.
The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the administrators of America's Special Ops forces, have announced starting clinical trials to see the effectiveness of such a drug.
"These efforts are not about creating physical traits that don't already exist naturally. This is about enhancing the mission readiness of our forces by improving performance characteristics that typically decline with age," Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, SOCOM spokesperson, said.
Speaking to Breaking Defense, Hawkins said that SOCUM has completed the required pre-clinical safety and dosing studies. There will be additional performance testing in 2022.
Not Genetic Engineering
The pill is actually considered a nutraceutical. Nutraceuticals are defined as food or part of a food that has medical or health benefits. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate nutraceuticals. Since the FDA is not involved in these substances, they are exempted from the rigorous standards that otherwise regulate prescription drugs and their development and use.
The military has reportedly been avoiding genetic engineering but using a substance that delays the consequences of aging could have a military benefit. Those in the armed forces, especially those in combat roles and special ops, face tremendous demands on their bodies and minds. If you could reduce degeneration that increases due to the immense stress and pressure on the human body, your top warriors can stay in combat and have a better quality of life.
The pill, in theory, may reduce the functional effects of aging on the human body. Aging and degeneration have an adverse effect on speed and reaction time. The military has already reportedly spent almost $3 million dollars on this project.
Successful Research Could Move to Private Sector Use
The private sector benefits could be numerous as the nation and the world faces a huge aging population. People experience changes in their health, body, and mind as a normal part of aging. However, these changes often lead to loss of independence and the need for assistance and long-term health care.
Millions of family members find themselves being a caregiver for a parent. These family members are often untrained and unprepared for the job placing a burden on the caregiver and their family. Otherwise, families must use their own resources to pay for long-term care services, which can quickly drain assets.
SOCOM's partner in this testing is the private biotech lab MetroBiotech. The company says an 'anti-aging pill could benefit the military and the careers of U.S. military personnel by slowing neurodegeneration, decrease inflammation in the body, and increasing "cardioprotection."
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