To lose a dog is literally like losing a member of your family, it cuts deep. But researchers are hoping to prove an anti-ageing drug could extend the life of man’s best friend by up to four years.
The University of Washington’s Dog Ageing Project is trialing the use of rapamycin on 32 middle-aged golden retrievers, labradors and German shepherds, in the hope it positively effects their lifespan.
The drug is used in humans to prevent the rejection of transplanted kidneys, and has also been proven to extend the lives of mice by up to 25 per cent.
It is hoped rapamycin’s anti-inflammatory effect could cleanse cells in the body, improving a dog’s heart function, immune system, body weight and mental ability.
One of the project’s lead geneticists, Dr Daniel Promislow, said to the journal Science:
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 aging that we expect rapamycin to provide.”
If the trial works it could possibly mean the drug would have a similar effect on humans.
Speaking on the same topic, Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, a biogerontologist at the University of Liverpool believes that further research could extend a dog’s life well beyond 3-4 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.”
It would be great to get a few extra years with a beloved pet if it was healthy, but I’m calling bollocks on that last comment. Mainly because who in their right mind would want to keep a dog alive for multiple centuries?