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Anti-Aging: Going To The Dogs

2 months, 2 weeks ago

2811  0
Posted on Apr 04, 2024, 9 p.m.

Human clinical trials notoriously go through many lengthy processes that could take decades, long enough for the study subjects to be monitored and live out the rest of their lives. Canine trials, however, do not take as long due to their shorter lifespans, meaning that before there is an anti-aging drug for humans, we are more likely to have one for dogs, and let’s face it that anti-aging doggie supplement is likely to be in high demand as it tugs on our heartstrings.

Currently, there are multiple clinical trials underway to test potential anti-aging compounds on dogs. Dogs are man’s best friend, and most people do anything they can to make their lives as comfortable as possible, making our doggies represent a potentially huge market. However, the science could eventually benefit both humans and dogs, but unfortunately, some premature claims are already causing credibility issues. 

Take for example David Sinclair, the Harvard University biologist who started marketing life extension supplements for dogs called Leap Years from Animal Biosciences, proclaiming the success of an unpublished clinical trial, publishing a press release originally promising that the treats were “proven to reverse aging in dogs”, but has since changed the press release to say that they would reverse the effect of age-related decline. 

The FDA is authorized to regulate veterinary drugs, but the agency does not approve supplements for people or pets, meaning that supplements can be sold without going through rigorous testing for safety and efficacy. But whether or not these anti-aging supplements work or not, there will be a demand from desperate dog owners hoping to help their best friends live a longer and healthier life. In the past, some owners have even gone as far as to have their dead or dying dogs cloned, with hopes that the clone would essentially be a reincarnation of their beloved fur baby. 

Some experts are worried that dog longevity supplements that haven’t been adequately tested could tarnish the reputation of a field that already struggles to separate their genuine research efforts from self-proclaimed experts pushing harmful fad diets and unproven anti-aging treatments. 

There is a lot to gain from having better scientific knowledge of aging, besides the monetary gains, after all, getting older is a risk factor for all of the major killer diseases, and this is an aging population that will suffer from a number of age-related wear and tear problems this knowledge could prevent, slow down, or even cure. 

But before this can happen these experts have to agree on what causes aging and what approach would work best, maybe it’s more than one cause that may even need an approach tailored to the individual. There is still much to learn. From blaming the process to genetics, to telomeres, or the build-up of senescent cells to chronic inflammation, the causes of aging appear to be many. 

Some of the possible mechanisms can be altered with drugs that work in Petri dishes or worms, some work in fruit flies, and some make mice live longer and healthier lives. However, we are all well aware that such research more often than not does not translate to humans. What’s more, which drugs should be tried on humans? Clinical trials of these drugs would more than likely take decades while the participants could be monitored as they lived out their lives. 

As such dogs represent promising models to identify promising drug candidates. They are long-lived enough to serve as better models for human aging than mice, but short-lived enough that drug candidates can be tested in a few years rather than several decades. 

The Dog Aging Project is currently collecting data from thousands of dogs as well as conducting a clinical dog trial with a drug called Rapamycin, measuring actual lifespan rather than a proxy. The biological data that they are collecting could lead to an explanation of why bigger dogs don’t live as long as smaller ones. 

A company called Loyal is also conducting rather secretive research that is speculated to be testing a drug that inhibits the production of action of growth hormones connected to the faster aging seen in larger dogs, but this has yet to be confirmed. Recently Loyal has partnered with over 50 vet clinics across the country to distribute one of their drugs called LOY-002 in a first-of-its-kind study called the STAY Study that targets the metabolic fitness process.

For the doubtful, there is much promise in studying just how and why animals age, and not just dogs. Certain clams can live to be 500, rockfish can live to be 200, giant tortoises can live longer than 200 years, whales can live into their 80s, and the Greenland shark can live to be older than 200 years old. More astonishingly glass sponges are one of the oldest animals on Earth by a long shot, it is estimated that they can live for more than 10,000 years. 

Amidst the cycle of life and death, there is only one creature that we are aware of that is truly extraordinary, the turritopsis dohrnii also called the immortal jellyfish. This tiny creature is most likely smaller than the nail on your pinky finger, but it is the one and only known biologically immortal animal on Earth. 

If scientists can understand the mechanisms of aging it would enable them to be better prepared to find ways to help us and our beloved pets live longer and healthier lives, but they need investors and the public to take their efforts seriously, they are not working on “snake oil”. Just imagine what they could learn from the immortal jellyfish or glass sponge, the future is wide open, ripe with opportunity for those willing to accept the challenge. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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