My dog Clementine turns nine on December 23rd. That is her trying to counter surf for dog treats in my office. A common belief is that dogs age about seven years for every one calendar year, which would put her around age 63 in human years. The truth is that different dog breeds age at different rates. Large dogs only live about 10 years and some small dog breeds can live to 15, while a few live even longer. Scientists aren’t really sure why small dog breeds tend to live longer than large dog breeds.
Dogs share greater genetic similarity to humans than other animal models that are routinely used for scientific research, such as rats. Dogs also share the same environment as humans, so they are a good subject to study for longevity. Dogs begin to experience many of the same age-related diseases as humans, including cancer, heart disease, renal failure, hip dysplasia, and others. According to the Wall Street Journal, scientists are studying dogs to learn more about human longevity and hopefully extend it.
Between 2019 and 2021, global financing for pet longevity firms more than quadrupled, according to an analysis from longevity research and media company Longevity.Technology. Driving the interest, in part, is the notion that getting an aging drug on the market for animals is likely to be cheaper and faster than doing so for people.
In the process of extending human lifespan, scientists may also help Fido and Clementine live longer. Except the process will likely work in reverse. In the process of extending dog lifespan scientists may also help you and I live longer.
Among some notable findings, scientists at the Dog Aging Project, a research effort based at the University of Washington and Texas A&M, found that physical activity was associated with better markers of cognitive aging in dogs. Another found social companionship, such as living with other dogs, was associated with better health.
Firms are in a race to see who can develop high-priced drugs to sell to humans to give to their dogs. If the drugs work, the firms can tweak them, increase the price by a factor of ten and sell them to humans to take themselves.
On Tuesday, a biotech startup that’s hoping to have the first FDA-approved treatment to extend healthy lifespan in dogs, took a step toward that goal. In a letter viewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Food and Drug Administration affirmed that its drug had demonstrated “reasonable expectation of effectiveness.”
The company, called Loyal, still has to complete several more steps before it can market the drug, and it’s only aimed at canines.
The firm’s drug is an injectable that is designed to reduce levels of IGF-1, a hormone that drives cell growth, in large dogs. High blood levels of IGF-1 have been associated with shorter lifespans in some animal and human studies.
Another firm is looking at a drug that already exists and repurposing it.
Researchers at the Dog Aging Project are currently enrolling canine participants in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to study the effects of rapamycin, a drug originally approved to prevent organ rejection in human transplant patients. Some people use it off-label as part of a longevity regimen.
If the drugs extends lifespan in dogs, there is an good chance it may work in humans too. The safe use in dogs may also be used to some degree as evidence of safety in humans. Another human drug that is thought to extend lifespan is Metformin. I wonder if it’s also being tested in dogs.
The article is worth reading at WSJ: The Clues to Longer Life That Are Coming From Dogs.