Could this drug help dogs live longer?

The drug rapamycin could help dogs live longer, studies suggest. 

Researchers at the Dog Aging Project are testing the effects of rapamycin – a pill originally manufactured to treat humans following organ transplants – on dogs to see if it has the potential to increase their life expectancy.

The drug works by suppressing the immune system; in turn, preventing it from attacking the donated organs. 

It is thought that rapamycin when given to dogs in low doses could add up to three years onto their lives. 

“Rapamycin seems to have the ability to ‘reset’ immune function by reducing the increase in chronic inflammation that goes along with ageing,” says lead researcher, Matt Kaeberlein. 

When tested on mice, the drug showed promising results such as strengthening the immune system so that it could effectively identify cancers and target viruses. 

It also appears to reverse the deterioration of heart function, as well as help reduce the ‘ageing’ of other vital organs. 

Trials are still underway, but so far the drug has been shown to increase the lifespan of mice by an average of 25%. 

However, it could be a while before we see rapamycin approved for longevity in dogs. 

“If our trial shows compelling evidence for beneficial effects and little in the way of side effects, I suspect many veterinarians will become more comfortable prescribing it for owners who request it,” Kaeberlein adds. 

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