If you’ve ever owned a dog – or own one now – I’ll bet you wish they could live a bit longer than they do.
Well, the more technology advances, the more it spills into areas that were never previously thought possible.
Two scientists at the University of Washington are investigating whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can also extend the lifespan of pet dogs.
The drug is called rapamycin, and in clinical trials on mice of the same age, it’s already shown that it can lengthen their lives by 20% to 30%.
Now, Matt Kaeberlein and Daniel Promislow are preparing a trial to see if rapamycin can have the same effect in dogs.
One Drug… Two Potent Properties
When it comes to boosting quality of life and extending lifespan, rapamycin is something of a magic potion.
It boasts two powerful properties: First, it zeroes in on a protein that regulates the body’s cell reproduction rate. And second, it improves the body’s ability to manage and recycle waste products.
Together, these enhancements improve health and reverse the aging process.
Kaeberlein, an Associate Professor of Pathology at Washington, says, “It’s not just lifespan that’s extended, but many age-related declines in function are also improved by rapamycin. So cardiac function is improved, cancer seems to be delayed, immune function, at least to some extent, is improved, cognitive function is improved. So it’s not only that the mice are living longer, they’re healthier longer into later life.”
Now, they want to copy that process for dogs.
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But the rationale for such testing isn’t just so pet pooches can live longer…
Rapamycin: The Key to Preventative Medicine?
Fellow researcher, Promislow, explains, “One of the most amazing things about dogs is that they’re more variable than any other species on the planet. It’s an incredibly variable species.”
They argue that this variability makes dogs an ideal test subject to see how effective rapamycin can be when it comes to combating various diseases and the aging process.
In turn, if the trial proves successful, it could open the door to trials with humans, too. Not so much in terms of creating a magic potion for anti-aging, but rather, when it comes to preventative medicine.
As Kaeberlein says, “This is a much more efficient approach to promoting health than waiting until people are sick with a disease and treating a disease at that point.”
Amen to that.
In the meantime, if the researchers can make rapamycin slow the aging process in dogs, man’s best friend could end up sticking around a little longer.