Cheap Drug Rapamycin Could Help Dogs, People Live Longer

Cheap Drug Rapamycin Could Help Dogs, People Live Longer

Jake the golden retriever and Dennis the hound are both in a clinical trial to study a pill called rapamycin. courtesy of sources Researchers are testing the drug rapamycin to see if it can help older dogs live longer. If it works, the same treatment could be adapted for humans. Aging experts say life extension doesn’t have to be expensive and can cost just a few dollars per pill.

Every Wednesday morning for a full calendar year, Jake the Golden Bear would get a delicious peanut butter ball with five little pills hidden inside: two blue, two white, one orange.

Denis the hound currently has a different Wednesday morning routine. A fascinating slice of stringy cheese with three little pills tucked inside: one blue, two white.

No one knows for sure yet, but it’s possible that these irresistible treats — packed with mystery pills — could help senior dogs live longer, healthier lives. And eventually, they can help people live even longer.

Dennis and Jake, both 10, are participants in the Canine Aging Project, a multi-part, multi-year study of tens of thousands of dogs nationwide. Jake and Dennis are part of a tightly controlled study under the project testing whether the cancer and transplant drug rapamycin can help dogs live longer.

During the study, researchers will also be on the lookout for whether rapamycin can help dogs stay healthier and fitter as they age. If the research is successful, it could be a big deal for humans too. Researchers hope that rapamycin could be a kind of fountain of youth in pill form: an anti-aging drug that could help people — and their pets — live longer and healthier lives.

Dogs with more energy and less gray hair, or “Wishful thinking?” Jake and Timothy. Courtesy of Timothy Cleary

So far, more than 85 dogs including Dennis and Jake have been involved in the rapamycin study, officially called TRIAD (Rapamycin in Aging Dogs Trial.) The research involves teams of veterinarians working at at least 15 different trial sites around the world. the country, from New York to Texas, Colorado and – soon – California. It’s being led by longevity researchers Daniel Promislow and Matt Kaeberlein at the University of Washington and veterinarian Kate Creevy at Texas A&M, who hope to enroll 580 dogs in the study by 2025 and complete the study by 2028.

“They take blood samples, urine samples, stool samples, take blood pressure,” said Jake’s owner, Timothy Cleary.

Jake “is getting more comprehensive physicals than I am,” Cleary said, referring to the checkups the dog gets at the University of Georgia every six months, which can last up to four hours.

The dogs and their owners, as well as the researchers conducting the study, have no way of knowing exactly what dose of medication the dogs are receiving, or if they are receiving any medication at all. The study is designed so that while some dogs receive medication, other dogs receive placebo pills. In this way, researchers hope to understand the true effect of this drug on the lifespan of dogs.

Cleary says it may be “wishful thinking,” but he’s convinced that after a few months on the pills, he began to notice a change in his dog.

“We’d throw a little lacrosse ball in the backyard, I’d see it bounce off our rock wall,” Cleary said, “He just seemed to have more energy.”

Dennis’ owner Veronica Munsey also said: “This may be completely wishful thinking,” but she is almost certain that her dog’s fur, which had been graying for some time, began to darken again after he began to took the weekly pills.

Human’s best lab partner Dennis (right) with his owner Veronica Munsey and Juniper, the youngest hound in the family, who is five years old. Courtesy of Veronica Munsey

Rapamycin has been used for decades in people who have received a kidney transplant. Recently, drug developers have discovered that it can also help with some treatment-resistant cancers by stopping cancer cells from reproducing. It helps suppress key parts of the immune system, slowing things like tumor growth and stimulating a cellular cleansing process in the body that is similar to fasting.

All of this appears to be good for immunity to viruses, including the flu, and possibly COVID. Scientists have also shown that rapamycin works to increase the lifespan of fruit flies, worms, mice and water fleas.

But the effects of rapamycin in older dogs — and in older people — are still being studied. And the drug is not without risk factors: Because rapamycin suppresses the immune system, patients taking the drug sometimes develop mouth sores and may have a slower healing time for cuts and sores.

That’s why researchers are studying the drug in dogs first, before moving on to more extensive human clinical trials.

Matt Kaeberlein, co-director of the Canine Aging Project, told Insider that dogs are an excellent animal to use for research because they share our environment.

Unlike yeast and flies, dogs do not live in laboratories; they roll in the grass, smell the pollen and pollutants, and accompany us through our bites of food, sometimes by car.

The fact that a dog’s life “mirrors the human environment gives us some reason to be more confident that this will actually work in humans,” Kaeberlein said.

A biotech startup is also testing aging pills for dogs – with one specially formulated for larger breeds Celine Halioua is the founder and CEO of Loyal. faithful

Kaeberlein and the University of Washington team aren’t the only ones testing anti-aging treatments in dogs.

Celine Halioua, founder and CEO of biotech startup Loyal, is similarly committed to helping dogs live longer and stay healthier, with an eventual eye toward helping humans do the same . Loyal recently received what Halioua believes is the first longevity study design supported by the Food and Drug Administration, for prospective trials of two different drugs in senior dogs. No drug has ever been approved by the FDA for aging as a condition — in animals or in humans — so if its test is successful, it could be a watershed moment for a whole new area of ​​drug development, discovering that that scientists call geroprotectors, drugs that can help fight death.

“It’s a very, very important milestone for the field of aging because if we want to have more antiaging drugs, we need to have a defined clinical pathway for a drug that goes from zero to market for aging,” she told The insider.

Loyal is working on developing two different pills. The first, called LOY-001, is designed to help larger dogs live longer by minimizing factors that promote premature aging among larger breeds. The second, LOY-002, is what Halioua says works a lot like rapamycin, but is a different compound. It also mimics fasting and improves the dog’s metabolism and can be used in dogs of all sizes if evidence shows it works.

Anti-Aging Medicines That Don’t Break the Bank Matt Kaeberlein co-directs the Dog Aging Project. courtesy of Matt Kaeberlein

Halioua says the anti-aging field often gets a bad reputation for “being associated with billionaires who want to live forever,” but what’s great about drug development for dogs is that it’s the exact opposite. Treatments need to be cheap, accessible and super safe if dog owners are going to be willing to use them.

“Our drugs will be cash,” she said. “We’re not betting insurance on marketing our drugs. And so by definition, anything we’re developing is going to have to be accessible if we want it to be marketable at all.”

Eventually, the same model could be used for humans, she suspects.

“My vision of what an antiaging drug should be is just a daily, inexpensive pill that the vast majority of the elderly American population is taking to reduce the risk and severity of future age-related diseases,” she said. . “It’s kind of the ultimate preventative medicine.”

Kaeberlein, who isn’t shy about admitting he’s already tried rapamycin for his aging joints, agrees with Halioua that yes, it would be great to have an inexpensive drug for age-related decline in humans one day, especially a which costs only a few dollars per pill. But even if that’s not possible, he’d still be happy with research that allows his dog and other dogs to hang around a little longer.

“If we can increase the healthy lifespan of pet dogs, that would be fantastic,” he said. “I’m a dog person and I can say I’ve achieved something important in my career if we have that impact.”

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