As noted below researchers are making an effort to establish the basis for a comprehensive study of aging in longer-lived species. Most present work on aging in mammals takes place in mice and rats, and while there are many similarities between mice and humans there are also sometimes unexpected differences in the biochemistry of aging between short-lived and long-lived species. For example that the important types of advanced glycation end-product (AGE), which produce cross-links that accumulate in tissues over a life span to cause damage and dysfunction, turned out to be very different in rodents and humans sabotaged some of the first serious efforts to produce AGE-breaker drugs to slow or reverse this contribution to the aging process.
Scientists aim to bridge the gap between lab research and aging's complexities in real life using the power of dogs. [They] are joining interdisciplinary collaborators from across the country to form the Canine Longevity Consortium - the first research network to study canine aging. It will lay the groundwork for a nationwide Canine Longitudinal Aging Study (CLAS), using dogs as a powerful new model system that researchers can study to find how genetic and environmental factors influence aging and what interventions might mitigate age-related diseases.
"Dogs offer tremendous potential as a model system for human aging. They share many genetic characteristics with humans that let us combine traditional demographic and epidemiological approaches with new techniques like comparative genomics. Unlike any other model system for aging, dogs share our environment and, increasingly, our health care options. Once developed, a canine model holds enormous promise, and we expect it to have a significant impact on aging research."
[Researchers] aim to craft the CLAS to see how an individual dog's aging trajectory is shaped by genes and the environment, gain detailed understanding of when and why dogs die, and find treatments to combat age-related illness. The researchers will start with pilot projects to choose the best breeds for the study and to determine how best to collect, analyze and share the large-scale data it will produce. The team will conduct an epidemiological analysis of genetic and environmental factors influencing canine lifespan, high-resolution mapping of canine longevity, and a yearlong epidemiological analysis of age and cause of death in all dogs seen within a select group of three private veterinary clinics.