Longevity scientists are hard at work testing pills that could extend our human lifespan to 100 or more. But what about our furry companions? Good news – The Dog Aging Project is doing some testing of its own.
VCA Animal Hospitals, the largest animal hospital chain in the U.S., and The Dog Aging Project just finished testing a drug called rapamycin in dogs. In low doses, rapamycin had been shown to extend the lives of mice, yeast, flies and worms (New York Times) so why not test it out on man’s best friend? The tests were conducted in Seattle on 40 dogs. They looked at the safety and tolerability of the drug rapamycin, which is FDA-approved for some people going through organ transplants, as well as some patients with cancer.
University of Washington aging scientist Dr. Matt Kaeberlein reported that rapamycin had no significant side effects. He also stated that at the end of the study, the hearts of those dogs taking the drug pumped blood more efficiently compared with the heart of the dogs in the control group.
What does that mean? That means more studies are in order.
So What’s The Dog Aging Project?
The University of Washington’s Dog Aging Project is dedicated to promoting healthy aging in people and their companion animals. The Dog Aging Project is led by Dr. Daniel Promislow and Dr. Matt Kaeberlein with Dr. Kate Creevy as their Chief Veterinary Officer.
The Dog Aging Project wants to enhance the health span – healthy period of life – in pets. They are aiming to conduct the first nationwide, large-scale longitudinal study of aging in dogs. Individual dogs will be followed throughout life to understand the biological and environmental factors that determine why some dogs die early or succumb to diseases, while others don’t. This study is in the fundraising stage now. It will kinda be like that movie where the little boy grows up that took over 10 years to shoot except all that came out of that was a movie.
Now as far as the study on 40 dogs mentioned above, this was a small study and results need to be replicated and well….shown as “results.” They say:
“…. we don’t have any evidence that the improvements in heart function indicate overall improvements in health or slower aging in these dogs or even what the long-term effects of rapamycin will be. We view these initial results as highly encouraging, however, and feel that this phase 1 study provides a strong justification for the next phase of the intervention trial which will follow dogs for three to five years.”
The next phase is called Phase 2. They want to enroll 450 dogs from all over the U.S. for a more comprehensive test over 5-years.
If you are interested in having your dog participate in the Phase 2 rapamycin test or the longitudinal study, visit their website and fill out a contact form. Yes, you paws-itively CAN participate.
Your pet living longer? It might not be that far-fetched! But if they are going to live longer, you might as well teach them some tricks you can benefit from as you both age.
Here’s to Havin’ A Best Friend When You’re Older,