A scientific trial is under way on what could be a revolutionary, age increasing drug that could increase a dog’s lifespan by as much as four years.
The drug, rapamycin, could delay the canine ageing process and give owners more years with their beloved pets.
Evolutionary geneticists at the University of Washington have been researching the ageing process and believe there is a chance that man’s best friend can live longer.
Dogs in the wild tend to live longer than the average domestic pet dog and scientists are trying to discover what makes some dogs live as long as twenty years plus, maintaining a degree of health that tends to erode in dogs of an average life expectancy.
The drug provoking the most excitement is rapamycin which is commonly used as medicine for patients who have undergone kidney transplants. It is said to have increased the lifespan of mice by more than 25% and, if those results translate to dogs, could add an extra 4 years of life.
Rapamycin’s anti-inflammatory properties help cells eliminate waste, detoxifying the body of those who take it.
Trials are now under way on 32 dogs of various breeds (Labradors & German Shepherds amongst them) to examine whether small doses of rapamycin can slow the ageing process, improve heart function as well as mental ability.
If the trials work as hoped in dogs, the scientists will investigate whether similar benefits can be seen in humans.
Dr Daniel Promislow, a geneticist on the Dog Ageing Project, at the University of Washington, speaking to the publication ‘Science’ says:
“If we can understand how to improve the quality and length of life, it’s good for our pets and good for us. It’s win-win.”
“If rapamycin has a similar effect in dogs – and it’s important to keep in mind we don’t know this yet – then a typical large dog could live two to three years longer, and a smaller dog might live four years longer.
“More important than the extra years, however, is the improvement in overall health during ageing that we expect rapamycin to provide.”
Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, a biogerontologist at the University of Liverpool is excited by the possibilities and goes as far as to suggest that it may be possible that dogs could live past 300 years.
“I don’t think there is a set maximum longevity for any species. The real question is how far can we go. Maybe a thousand years from now you could have dog that lives 300 years.”
What is Rapamycin?
Rapamycin, also called sirolimus, drug characterized primarily by its ability to suppress the immune system, which led to its use in the prevention of transplant rejection. Rapamycin is produced by the soil bacterium Streptomyces hygroscopicus. The drug’s name comes from Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, where the compound was originally discovered in soil samples in the 1970s.
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