A dog’s life is just too short – and watching your dog age can be extremely difficult. Your once lively, energetic pup now is slowing down, and with that comes all sorts of anguish. Scientists are looking to change this.
The Dog Aging Project wants to be the biggest study on dog aging ever conducted. It is looking to examine the aging process in the hopes of increasing a dog’s age by potentially 2 to 5 years.
Led by Daniel Promislow and Matt Kaeberlein, two professors at the University of Washington, the project consists of two parts.
The initial phase has already concluded but involved a clinical trial of rapamycin, a FDA-approved drug used in humans to help prevent organ transplant rejection. In lower doses, researchers have found rapamycin slows the aging process in mice, along with other organisms, and has few or no side effects. In a 10-week trial, researchers found that the heart function in large-breed, middle-aged dogs improved.
The second phase will involve tracking 10,000 dogs and studying their genetics and health as they age. The dogs will be administered a low dose of rapamycin over a longer period of time, probably 3 to 5 years. The scientists will study how environmental factors, along with genetics, impact cognitive and heart function, immunity and cancer incidences.
Researchers hope to not only determine how we can potentially increase our dog’s lifespan but to provide something veterinarians desperately need: data. Because vet records are not standardized, it is very difficult to study dogs. With this project, vets and students could access information to better diagnose pups.
Plus, this information from this study could also help us better understand the aging process in humans.
Image credit: Tammi Kaeberlein