Magic pill could help family dogs live two more years
The death of a dog can be as devastating as the loss of a family member, causing grief, mourning and an incalculable sense of loss.
Still, there is hope for owners who dread grief. Dogs may not match the nine lives of cats, but advances in pharmacology could extend their lifespan by years.
Researchers in the United States believe that a drug called rapamycin could extend the average lifespan by a third.
Previous experiments in smaller animals such as mice have shown that rapamycin can extend maximum lifespan by 9-30%.
Now, a first-of-its-kind trial at the University of Washington will test rapamycin in dogs in a long-term, double-blind clinical trial.
Capable of detecting lifetime
“We don’t know if these effects will be similar in absolute or relative magnitude in dogs, but I think it’s possible,” Matt Kaeberlein, a pathology professor involved in the project, told The Telegraph.
“Our study is designed to be able to detect a lifespan extension of 9% or more.”
Small dogs live longer than older dogs, with Great Danes living less than 10 years on average. Toy Poodles and Chihuahuas, however, typically live longer than 15 years.
The project, called Triad (testing rapamycin in aging dogs), is part of the larger Dog Aging Project (DAP) which will study all the nuances and quirks of dogs’ lifespans.
Professor Daniel Promislow, principal investigator and co-director of DAP, said the study focuses on middle-aged large breed dogs and aims to recruit 500 companion animals. Eligible dogs will be similar in size to a Labrador and between the ages of seven and 10.
“These dogs could have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years,” he said.
“If this is successful, I would say a one to two year life extension for a dog of this size would be really meaningful for both the dog and the owner.”
The project could also throw humans a bone. While Triad will study the extension of lifespan, DAP examines what aspects influence the health, aging and lifespan of dogs and how this may translate to humans.
“Dogs age like us, they suffer from many of the same age-related illnesses and they have a sophisticated healthcare system, just like us, with GP clinics and specialists,” Prof Promislow said.
“But one of the specialties that does not exist in veterinary medicine is geriatrics; there is no science of gerontology for dogs and we want to create that body of knowledge.
Enthusiasm for walkies
And because dogs and humans are not only biologically similar, but live in similar conditions – although we would do well to learn from their enthusiasm for walkies – we can benefit greatly from studying lifespans. dogs.
“Because they die much faster, they live much shorter than us, we can learn about these risk factors much faster than if we were studying people,” Professor Promislow said.
Professor Kaeberlein added: “DAP allows us to study aging outside the laboratory, taking into account the importance of genetic and environmental diversity similar to that of humans.
“This is something that is simply not possible in other animals at the moment. Dogs age like humans, but they do so at an accelerated rate. So we expect a much of what we learn about aging dogs applies to humans.
“Of course, it’s not just about human aging. People love their dogs and most people consider their pets part of their family.
“Even if we only succeed in increasing the lifespan and health of companion dogs, it is extremely important for humans who love their dogs.”
And if nothing else, the concept of “a dog’s life” might finally become desirable.