A drug could allow some dogs to live longer, paving the way for similar drugs for humans

In the early 1990s, a large shaggy St. Bernard named Beethoven won the hearts of millions of children with two hit dramatic films called “Beethoven” (1992) and “Beethovens 2” (1993). Sadly, the real-life Beethoven died shortly after the sequel was filmed, inadvertently shortening the life span of Saint Bernards and other large breed dogs like Great Danes, Newfoundlands and Mastiffs by only 7 to 10 years She goes. In contrast, smaller dog breeds (if healthy) can live almost twice as long.

“We hope that someday we will be able to translate what we learn about longevity in dogs into similar treatments for humans.”

Yet what if there was a way to extend the lifespan of these large breed dogs? A company aims to do just that. San Francisco-based startup Loyal is a clinical-stage veterinary medicine company that recently made headlines for working to obtain conditional approval for a new drug from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Yes, the same government agency that’s responsible for regulating human pharmaceuticals does the same for animals.) The company is part of Cellular Longevity, a biotech firm that is developing drugs aimed not only at dogs, Rather, one day the lifespan of humans also has to be increased.

Meanwhile, LOY is on track to petition the FDA for approval of three drugs: LOY-001, LOY-002 and LOY-003. The company has not yet released the actual chemical names of these drugs and has not responded to Salon’s question about what they are. But based on what they shared, LOY-001 reduces a growth-promoting hormone called IGF-1 in dogs, and in the process increases the life expectancy of these animals. If it becomes available by LOY’s target year of 2026, dogs who are given LOY-001 will receive shots every three to six months once they are seven years old and over 40 pounds.

It has already been established that IGF-1 levels are associated with longevity and aging in mice, roundworms and fruit flies. Because large dogs often have 28 times more IGF-1 than small dogs, it makes sense that LOY-001 could increase large breed life expectancy through the same principles that apply to other animals , although the overall evidence is unclear. ,

“Every person with a large breed dog faces this terrifying calculation about their dog’s reduced life expectancy,” Celine Halioa, founder and CEO of Loyal, told Salon by email. “We do not accept this.” [25 million] We can help large breed dogs – that’s 25 million dogs in the US alone – live longer and better quality lives.”

Like anything involving animal research, a study like this could raise ethical concerns, according to Cornell University professor Adam Boyko, who runs a canine genetics lab and co-founder of dog DNA testing company Embark Veterinary.

Boyko said, “The main ethical concern I see here is to ensure that experimental drugs are being used judiciously with a reasonable expectation of positive cost-benefit for the dogs enrolled in the study.” In addition to protecting the dogs in the study, pet dogs who have been given the first dose also need to be protected – meaning owners must be informed that the drug is experimental and updated as new information comes in.


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“The LOY-001 drug focuses on undoing the damage humans have done over the years through selective breeding.”

“Experimental drugs and clinical trials are common in pets, so I don’t think there are any concerns with a judicious and appropriately conducted rollout of drugs, but it is important to ensure low risk as these drugs are being given to healthy dogs. Are,” Boyko explained. They also observed that – because drugs like LOY-001 can address human aging as well as dog aging – unless pharmaceutical companies and the medical community embrace transparency, dogs will remain at risk of exploitation.

Boyko argued, “A company could potentially be viewed as continuing to market a drug that has shown some promise in reversing the aging clock, but more to better inform potential human treatments. Their interest in generating data has also shown some unacceptable risks to some dogs.” “Thus, transparency is really important so that owners can make informed decisions about what is best for their dog.”

When Salon asked Halioa about ethical concerns that arise in drug trials like LOY-001, he responded that LOY prioritizes safety and effectiveness.

“We all have a responsibility to do the right thing when it comes to dogs – we feed them, shelter them and take care of their health,” Haliua said. “We give them medicines when they are sick. Our products follow the same principle – supporting the quality of life in dogs’ middle years so they stay healthier as they age and result in longer, better lives Can live.”

Halioua also explained that the company’s mission actually reverses a form of human-caused cruelty to dogs.

“The LOY-001 drug is focused on reducing the damage humans have done over the years through selective breeding,” Haliua said. “It’s clearly beneficial for the dogs.”

At the same time, Halioa acknowledged that Boyko’s assumptions about the implications of LOY-001 for human aging are correct. Halioua emphasized that the company’s priority is to help large breed dogs, she said. His additional observation was that “It is also true that dogs are an excellent model for aging in humans. We live in the same environments and share similar lifestyles. We suffer similar age-related diseases for similar reasons. “That’s why we hope that someday we may be able to translate what we learn about longevity in dogs into similar treatments for humans.”

The long-term effects of LOY-001 don’t just benefit humans. After all, if the lifespan of large breed dogs and human lifespan can be extended by pharmaceuticals, why can’t the lifespan of dogs that do not belong to large breeds be extended?

“Yes – we’re already working on that drug,” Haliua told Salon. “We currently have three drugs in development. LOY-001 and LOY-003 are focused on large breed dogs. And our LOY-002 drug is designed for senior dogs of all but small breeds.”

Boyko shares Halioa’s optimism about dogs who are not part of larger breeds benefiting from the research being conducted by companies like Loyal.

“While LOY-001 focuses on insulin growth factor signaling (which is a major driver of both body size and reduced lifespan in large breed dogs), other anti-aging drugs target different pathways and may work in all dogs. would be more likely, Boyko told Salon. “Tests of some of these drugs in laboratory animals have been impressive, so there is reason to believe that if administered properly to pets and even humans If they go, they too will be successful.”

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