The death of a dog can feel just as devastating as losing a family member. Now, researchers at the University of Washington think they’ve found a drug that could add years to the life of a canine companion.
Stormy the chocolate labrador retriever is in love with the hunt. And her human, Keven Medved, is in love with her.
“We love our dog so much, and we appreciate everything they’ve done for us,” Medved said.
Stormy is now part of a new study that could extend her life up to three years.
Researchers at the University of Washington studying the drug rapamycin say early tests in rats, mice and dogs show the drug slows the aging process.
“So, you can take an old heart or an old immune system and treat a mouse with rapamycin for eight weeks and see that function improve,” said Dr. Matt Kaeberlein, with the university’s Dog Aging Project. “So, you know… I know it sounds a little bit like science fiction, but when you actually look at the data, it’s quite remarkable.”
Dr. Kaeberlein, a dog owner himself, is now leading a large study involving nearly 600 dogs around the country.
Researchers say this study could have implications for human lifespan as well. Dogs actually age like humans, experiencing many of the same age-related diseases.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved rapamycin for humans. It’s used as an anti-rejection drug for people receiving organ transplants.
“It hasn’t been tested in the context of lower doses and otherwise healthy people where we’re just now learning that there really are very, very little in the way of side effects and potentially pretty significant benefits for age-related functional declines and diseases,” said Dr. Kaeberlein.
Medved doesn’t know if Stormy will get the placebo or the actual drug.
“Another three or four years would be great. Anything beyond that would be gravy,” he said.
With hope that every dog owner may get a little more time with their best friend.
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