Could Dogs Be the Key to Reversing Aging in Humans?

“While we are building these dog longevity drugs and giving something that pet parents, at least from the emails I get, really, really want, we’re also learning something about how to help people live longer, healthier lives,” Celine Halioua, founder and CEO of Loyal, a San Francisco startup that’s studying drugs to slow aging in larger dog breeds, told National Geographic.

Today, many companies are endeavoring to find ways to lengthen the life and health spans of man’s best friends. And along with these efforts is the hope that we will also discover how to reverse aging in humans.

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So far, there are several therapies and drugs that are under trial to treat age-related problems in our canine friends. One of these is a gene therapy, code-named RJB-01, that delivers two genes associated with longevity. The therapy aims for the restoration of cellular processes and pathways that are vital for health but deteriorate with time, resulting in diabetes, heart diseases, and other chronic disorders.

“We view the world like this — we think aging is reversible. If you are able to affect aging, you should be able to affect multiple age-related conditions,” explained Daniel Oliver, co-founder and CEO of Rejuvenate Bio, which developed the aforementioned gene therapy.

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Another promising undertaking is the Dog Aging Project, which is co-directed by biologist Matt Kaeberlein at the University of Washington. The massive undertaking focuses on cracking the code on canine longevity to unravel the connection it may have for humankind. Nearly 40,000 pet dogs were enrolled in the project, which began in 2019. Activities included gathering biological, genetic, and environmental data to promote longer health spans.

It’s an extensive ten-year study, covering, among other things, the dogs’ medical histories and detailed surveys on their health, experiences, and cognitive abilities. Data on air and water quality where these dogs reside are also recorded.

Already, ten thousand of these dogs are scheduled for genome sequencing. About a thousand of them will also undergo extensive veterinary examinations yearly with advanced microbiome and epigenome analyses or DNA chemical modifications signifying biological age.

Photo: YouTube/KOIN 6

Several papers have already been published based on data from the Dog Aging Project, and two of their conclusions have relevance to human health: “Physical activity protects against cognitive dysfunction, and one daily meal is better than frequent feeding for all-around health.”

Meanwhile, while awaiting the publication of the results of their trial, there’s news that Rejuvenate Bio has formed a partnership with an animal health company and intends to get the approval of the Food and Drug Administration for their canine gene therapy.

They are also planning to recode the gene cocktail for human application and get it tested for two diseases: arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy and familial partial lipodystrophy. They all hope that their findings will also help in treating other ailments related to adulthood.

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