Proposing a Trial of Rapamycin in Dogs

Rapamycin has been shown to modestly extend life in mice, though there is some ongoing debate as to whether this is an effect caused by cancer risk reduction rather than a slowing of aging. Some researchers are now intending to embark on a small study using dogs:

Yeast, worms and mice: all have lived longer when treated with various chemical compounds in laboratory tests. But many promising leads have failed when tried in humans. This week, researchers are proposing a different approach to animal testing of life-extending drugs: trials in pet dogs. Their target is rapamycin, which is used clinically as part of an anti-rejection drug cocktail after kidney transplants and which has also been shown to extend the lives of mice by 13% in females and 9% in males.

The compound's effect on lifespan has not yet been tested in people - human trials are expensive and it takes a long time to learn whether a drug can extend a human life. Furthermore, rapamycin is no longer patentable, so pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to invest effort in it. The drug can also cause some serious side effects that might rule it out as a pharmaceutical fountain of youth. It has, for example, been linked to an increased risk of diabetes in people who have had kidney transplants. But at low doses, researchers suspect that the drug will not be a problem for healthy dogs.

[Molecular biologists] propose to give low doses of rapamycin to dogs in a study that would also test whether the drug can extend the animals' lives. The researchers hope to test rapamycin in large dogs that typically live for eight to ten years; they would start giving the drug to animals aged six to nine. A pilot trial would involve about 30 dogs, half of which would receive the drug, and would allow the researchers to dose the dogs for a short time and observe effects on heart function and some other health measures. The trial could be completed in as little as three years, but researchers will know long before that - perhaps in months - whether rapamycin improves cardiac function or other aspects of health.

Link: http://www.nature.com/news/pet-dogs-set-to-test-anti-ageing-drug-1.16237

Comments

I think this has about a 1% chance of working out (that is the oft quoted figure for any other drugs chance of working).

Going on what others have said, the real problem is that this is messing with metabolism in an attempt to keep it in a youthful state, rather than removing that damage that causes metabolism to change from its youthful state.

Posted by: Jim at November 3rd, 2014 10:24 AM

Jim,

I'd like to know what your qualifications and reasoning are to make an estimate of 1%. People who are experts in this area, who have doctoral degrees from places like Berkeley, MIT, Stanford, and Harvard, think it has a good chance of working based on solid data published in top peer-reviewed scientific journals. Many breeds of dogs get cancer at rates similar to mice, so even if much of the effect of rapamycin is due to reduced cancer incidence, it should work in dogs.

Your comment about "messing with metabolism" instead of "removing that damage" is also non-sensical. Rapamycin induces autophagy which is a cellular mechanism for removing damage. Effects of rapamycin on heart function and immune stem cell function appear very much like rejuvenation to a more youthful state, at least functionally. Perhaps you should start listening to people who know what they are talking about, if you are going to form your opinion based on what others have said.

Posted by: Rob at November 5th, 2014 9:08 AM

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