For most dog owners, the idea of extending the life of their beloved companion is tempting. The lifespan of a dog — about 10 to 13 years — is only a small part of that of the average male, and some breeds, especially the larger ones, have an even shorter life expectancy.
“When you adopt a dog, you adopt a future dog,” Emilie Adams, a New Yorker who owns three Rhodesian Ridgebacks, told Emily Anthes of the New York Times. “It’s worth it over time because you have so much love in the middle of now and when they leave. But their lifespan is shorter than ours.”
Now, San Francisco-based biotech company Loyal has revealed that its anti-aging medicine for dogs has cleared the initial of several necessary hurdles for Food and medicine Administration approval. Although the medicine has not yet undergone clinical trials, this is the initial time the FDA has expressed its willingness to approve longevity medicines, Hilary Brueck writes for Business Insider.
Scientists have long been interested in ways to slow down the aging process and prolong life. Previous research on roundworms has modified two cellular pathways to extend their lifespan by 500%. Earlier this year, scientists reportedly reversed the signs of aging in mice.
But aging in more complex, long-lived organisms like humans has proven harder to hack. On the one hand, clinical trials would have to take decades before researchers could collect data, which would be very expensive. However, loyal CEO Celine Halioua believes that dogs facing age-related ailments similar to those of humans at about the same time in their lives could be a good model for our own longevity.
“If a large dog gets sick at seven, eight or nine and dies of age-related health issue, it turns gray at four. He becomes lame at the age of five,” says Halioua Aleks Krotoski from the BBC series “Intrigue: the Immortals.””The aging rate is so high that in about 6 to 12 months you can tell if a medicine has an effect on him. In 6-12 months you will not see anything in a person.”
Loyal’s medicine called LOY-001 is an injection treatment that targets a growth and metabolic hormone called IGF-1. This hormone seems to be related to body size — it occurs in higher concentrations in large dogs and in lower concentrations in small dogs. Research has shown that Inhibiting IGF-1 can prolong their lifespan in flies, worms and rodents, according to Emily Mullin of Wired. However, the hormone is not the only factor apparently associated with the longevity of dogs.
Designed for healthy dogs over the age of seven and over 40 weights, LOY-001 is administered by a veterinarian every three to six months. At the same time, the company is working on the development of a daily pill called LOY-003.
“We don’t make immortal dogs to clarify, but we hope that this aging rate will be slower, which means that the animal will be healthier for longer,” said Halioua Megan rose Dickey from Axios. “And this is fundamental for the whole Biology of what we do.”
The manipulation of the age of animals, in particular, raises a variety of ethical mysteries, including the impact on their quality of life.
“If it turns out to be true that it prolongs the lifespan, I only care if the extended lifespan is a good quality of life,” Kate Creevy, veterinarian at Texas A & M University and senior veterinarian of the canine aging project, which is conducting a study on another anti-aging medicine for dogs called rapamycin, “I don’t want my dog to live another two years in poor health.”