Back in 2009 the drug , rapamycin was shown to extend by 10% the lives of test mice. Now it appears that the researchers involved are moving up in terms of recruiting to test this potentially anti-ageing drug. Now the study group has set its sights on pet dogs, specifically large canines such as Labradors and German shepherds.
Rapamycin was originally developed as an anti-rejection drug for kidney transplant recipient patients but the 2009 effects on mice have prompted more projects aimed at establishing trials on humans. Medical experts are naturally eager to discover if humans would be similarly affected.
Should this remarkable drug act upon humans in a similar way then protecting them against age-related diseases would become easier. Not that this could happen soon as a lot of trials will need to be conducted first but the fact that mice dosed with Rapamycin received profound benefits in terms of rejuvenated bodies and increased life-spans leads to great excitement among researchers.
20 month old mice are the same in real terms as middle-aged humans so the team believe that providing the drug to middle-aged dogs will enable them to more quickly assess how effective they might prove to be on humans. One reason for this is that pets and owners share the same environmental influences and this makes canine subjects of especial interest.
Should these canine trials prove successful the benefits would be obvious in that the research teams would want to take it to the next stage and begin human trials with volunteers. Well run dog trials would also give researchers vital data regarding the parameters like dosage when planning human trials.
The way in which Rapamycin works is in the fact that it acts on a cell-growth protein and behaves as an anti-inflammatory. The first life-extending drug shown to work in a mammalian species this compound switches on the bodily process dubbed autophagy through which cells rid themselves of garbage. There are known to be side-effects which can show as diabetes-like symptoms and lung complications.
However these happen mostly when a patient receives high dosages, which would never be the case during the proposed trials on dogs. Rapamycin would be added to dog food over years in small doses. Owners would be requested to cooperate with researchers in observing over time whether the drug appeared to extends the lives of their pets significantly as they got older and helped maintain their good health into the bargain. Should these trials succeed that will be a great step forward in anti-ageing research.
Image via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labrador_Retriever#mediaviewer/File:YellowLabradorLooking_new.jpg
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