Research into Dog Ageing Includes a Trial of Rapamycin
At the current rate of growth, there will be a billion dogs alive by 2030.
This includes wild dogs, working dogs, and strays – and between 250 million and 400 million pets.
In 2016, research scientists from the University of Washington began a big study into dog aging. This has major implications for our understanding of human longevity – and in unexpected ways.
Below is an overview of the (ongoing) dog aging project. It is followed by insights showing how we will all benefit from studying the biological lives of our canine friends.
Introducing the Dog Ageing Project
A deep understanding of dog ageing requires a big sample. The dog aging project tracks 10,000 dogs – and covers purebred, mixed breed and animals of all shapes and sizes. Data on food, lifestyles and medication is tracked – along with regular check-ups.
Professors Kaeberlein and Promislow at the University of Washington direct the study, alongside Dr Kreevy of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. It will last for 10 years.
Insights into how the environment and biology combine to influence dog longevity is the key goal.
There is an additional sub-study, and this is already popular among human longevity researchers.
500 animals are part of a study to test the effects of Rapamycin on longevity. Double-blind placebo controls make this a top-tier clinical trial. And it has shown early promise with improved heart health.
Why the Dog Ageing Project is Important: Public Awareness
New clinical trials involving us humans barely make a dent in the mainstream media. Conversely, the dog ageing project is heavily featured in the biggest global publications. Examples include Nature, CNN, and National Geographic.
For millions of people, this will have been the first time they thought about the ‘why?’ of ageing.
In a world where this considered ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable,’ that is a key first step.
A smaller subset will find out about Rapamycin. That is the first step on the journey to the ‘aha!’ moment – and for some the road to seeing aging as a disease will follow. Let’s hope they don’t run into too many bickering academics and snake oil salespeople before understanding the wonderful science.
**As a quick aside, I created the graphic above using DALL-E, the AI Image generator (try lyrics from your favourite band, its entertaining).
Positives from the Dog Ageing Project: Rapamycin
We know that Rapamycin prolongs the life of yeast, fruit flies and mice. The double-blind placebo-controlled trial in dogs will help us extend that knowledge.
Rapamycin has huge potential. It is already part of the daily supplement regime of hardened biohackers, and is exciting scientists in the longevity field. This is an mTOR inhibitor, it mimics scarcity at a cellular level – promoting autophagy and cellular heath. There are now Rapamycin trials involving people, check out the PEARL trial for a high-profile example.
Rapamycin will get massive publicity once it is proven to work in dogs. Beyond the splashy headlines about wonder drugs or the fountain of youth – mainstream knowledge of this area of research could see research project funding explode. Of all the longevity drugs, Rapamycin (especially in combination with other molecules) shows the most promise.
Unknown-Unknowns: Canines Might Teach Humans Some New Tricks
Everyone likes to be right. One risk with studies like the dog aging project is that we scrutinize the data to back up our thinking on fasting, diet, nutrients, exercise, and sleep.
But with experienced researchers directing this project, I’m excited about the unknown unknowns too. All that data (even aside from the Rapamycin side-study) will hopefully bring us new angles to look at. Just how do genetics, physical shape, and size combine with those environmental differences?
Get Involved and Find Out More
Only US dogs are part of this trial, but the outcome will affect canines (and humans) everywhere. If you are inside the continental US (not territories) then you can nominate a dog via www.dogagingproject.com
This is a non-profit program, primarily supported by the NIA (National Institute on Aging). You can donate directly through the Dog Aging Project Website, and through the University of Washington.
You can help without money simply by spreading the word. Because as more people become aware of studies like this one – the greater the number of people will find out that healthy aging is something they have direct control over.
I’m excited about the Dog Ageing Project and will keep you updated on the breakthroughs as they occur.
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