Posted on May 11, 2016, 6 a.m.
Initial results of anti-aging medical trial on dogs are ‘astonishing'
Rapamycin is a bacterial by-product that was discovered in 1964 in the soil at Easter Island, by a group of Canadian scientists who had gone there to study the health of the isolated local population. Since it’s discovery, rapamycin has been used to suppress the immune systems of transplant patients, to stop them from rejecting their new organs. It’s also been used for it’s ability to stop cells from dividing, forming the basis of potential anti-cancer drugs. More recently, it was discovered to extend the lifespan of mice. It is hoped that rapamycin will one day help humans to live longer.
Now, researchers from the University of Washington have tested it on dogs. They were shocked by the initial findings, which showed that some dogs displayed improvement in heart functionality after just a few weeks. Dogs normally age very rapidly in contrast to humans, with most living between 10 to 13 years. This enables the scientists to study their aging process in a short period of time. 40 dog-owners were recruited by the team, and instructed to give their pets three tablets of rapamycin a week. Upon weeding out dogs with heart conditions, or other medical conditions, the team was left with 24 middle-aged dogs, who each received low doses of the drug. Echocardiograms were taken throughout the course of 10 weeks, to determine changes in the animals' heart function. The researchers discovered that the dogs taking the rapamycin exhibited either an improvement in heart functionality, or no change. Additionally, the dogs that had come in with worse conditions, initially saw the greatest improvement.
Matt Kaeberlein, the biologist leading the team, said the results are ‘astonishing’ and that he was ‘shocked’ when he got the data. The researchers hope to next conduct further tests with the drug, spanning multiple years, with the hope that it will be approved for humans in the next decade.
Dog Aging Project http://dogagingproject.com/