If you could safely give medicine that guaranteed your dog would live longer, would you do it?
Scientists at the University of Washington are working on extending dog lives by two to four years. The study is called the Dog Aging Project, and their research is ongoing.
Seeing your dog age is heartbreaking because you know the day will come when you will whisper your final goodbyes and send them over the rainbow bridge.
Grateful for the years you spent together, you mourn the time lost and can feel cheated by their short lifespan.
With a life expectancy of 11 years for dogs and 78 to 79 for males and 82 for females in the United States and the United Kingdom, we only spend around 14% of our lives with our four-legged friends.
However, a group of scientists at the University of Washington is working on how to extend a dog’s life by two to four years.
The first of three phases of the Dog Aging Project attempted to see if Rapamycin’s anti-rejection drug could help dogs live longer lives.
Rapamycin testing results extend the longevity of mice by up to 25%, and the drug is already being used in humans to aid kidney transplantation acceptance.
The drug was initially tested on 24 German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers, and results discovered Rapamycin improved their hearts.
Next, the research team tested the drug on 50 dogs in phase two and looked at how Rapamycin affects a dog’s cognitive function and activity.
Dr. Matt Kaeberlein said: “We find that ten weeks of low-dose Rapamycin treatment in middle-aged dogs is well-tolerated, with no overt side effects relative to placebo, and with improvements in left ventricular cardiac function that are comparable to what has been previously reported from a similar regimen in middle-aged mice.”
Even though Rapamycin was found to extend the lifespan of mice, it did not appear to have the same effect on dogs, compelling the scientific team to increase the number of test participants for phase three.
“While there is evidence that Rapamycin improves age-related deterioration of cardiac function in laboratory mice, no such effect has been demonstrated in dogs or other animals existing in a natural environment,” added Dr. Kaeberlein.
“Our study provides the first evidence that Rapamycin may partially reverse age-related heart dysfunction in dogs by improving measures of both diastolic and systolic functions.”
“Although the effects reported here do not reach statistical significance for each measure, likely due to the relatively small sample size and high individual heterogeneity, all three of the outcomes showed trends toward improved function following Rapamycin treatment, and two of them reached statistical significance. “
The team plans to conduct randomized clinical trials with a bigger number of middle-aged dogs who will be observed for a longer period of time in their next study.
Dr. Kaeberlein concluded: “This will allow us to perform more powerful analyses of Rapamycin’s effects on heart function and behavior and help us determine whether there are differences in mortality, as well as the onset and prevalence of the various diseases that share aging as their common risk factor.”
Stay tuned for updates on this research project.