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Feb 6, 2024, 2:19pm EST
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First anti-aging pill for dogs enters clinical trials

Insights from The BBC, The New York Times, and Yahoo Finance

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A senior Great Dane rests on the couch at home
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The first anti-aging pill for dogs is now in clinical trials, and researchers hope it will pave the way for lifespan-extending drugs for people. San Francisco-based veterinary medicine startup Loyal developed the chewable pill, and is waiting on approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an injectable anti-aging drug for large dogs. The drug is expected to be most successful in larger breeds, which tend to die younger.

The pill, which works by altering metabolic processes, will be tested on 1,000 dogs over 10 years old and weighing at least 14 pounds. The dogs will be monitored over four years, and their lifespan and quality of life compared to those given a placebo. Loyal hopes it will extend their lives by at least an extra year.

The company aims to get conditional approval from the FDA by early 2025, and said it’s committed to making the treatment affordable for pet owners.

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Unlocking the secret to dog longevity could help humans too

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Sources:  
National Library of Medicine, National Geographic, The BBC

Dogs are an ideal model to study human aging, researchers have found, because they experience similar environmental conditions to humans and appear to have similar age-related dynamics with disease risk. “Dogs are great models for figuring out why humans decline over time,” Fran Smith, a National Geographic contributing writer who worked on a series about longevity, told ABC7 San Francisco.

Studying anti-aging in dogs is faster than similar studies on humans. “The rate of aging [in dogs] is so high that you can tell if a drug is impacting that in about 6 to 12 months. In 6 to 12 months, you’re not going to see anything in a person,” Loyal’s CEO told the BBC.

Experts question the ethics of living longer

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Sources:  
The New York Times, The Conversation

“If animals are living longer, do we have the resources and commitment to provide lives worth living?” one veterinary ethics expert asked The New York Times. “What if we see more dogs outliving their owners?” She added that it might be a better use of resources to expand access to veterinary care and reform breeding practices that have historically led to health problems in dogs.

The prospect of humans living longer due to anti-aging drugs also presents serious ethical questions: Not everyone is convinced that extending our lifespans is a good idea. “There are many possible harms: Dictators might live far too long, society might become too conservative and risk-averse and pensions might have to be limited, to name a few,” California State University philosophy professor John K. Davis wrote for The Conversation. Davis also worries that lifespan-extending treatments would only be available to the rich, exacerbating inequity.

Anti-aging research taken more seriously as field advances

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Sources:  
The New York Times, Yahoo Finance

Loyal isn’t the only group working on extending the lives of our canine companions. A separate team of researchers is conducting a trial to see whether a drug that has been shown to extend the lives of lab mice can do the same for dogs. “These developments are a sign of the accelerating pace of the science and the seriousness with which researchers and regulators are taking a field that once seemed like science fiction,” the New York Times reported.

Several billionaires have also turned their attention to extending human lifespans, Yahoo Finance reported. Jeff Bezos is invested in an anti-aging startup called Altos Labs, and Peter Thiel and Sam Altman have backed similar longevity-focused ventures.

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