Dog riding in a car.

These scientists are working to extend the life span of pet dogs – and their owners

Anti-aging drugs are being trialed in companion dogs–but the goal is to find ways to have people, as well as beloved pets, live longer, healthier lives.

By Jessica Hamzelou, MIT Technology Review

Matt Kaeberlein is what you might call a dog person. He has grown up with dogs and describes his German shepherd, Dobby, as “really special.” But Dobby is 14 years old—around 98 in dog years. “I’m very much seeing the aging process in him,” says Kaeberlein, who studies aging at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Kaeberlein is co-director of the Dog Aging Project, an ambitious research effort to track the aging process of tens of thousands of companion dogs across the US. He is one of a handful of scientists on a mission to improve, delay, and possibly reverse that process to help them live longer, healthier lives.

The Dog Aging Project is just one of several groups seeking to understand and improve dog aging. Biotech company Loyal has plans to offer life extension for dogs. And a third group, running a project called Vaika, is looking for ways to lengthen life span through a study on retired sled dogs.

But dogs are just the beginning. Because they are a great model for humans, anti-aging or life-span-extending drugs that work for dogs could eventually benefit people, too. In the meantime, attempts to prolong the life of pet dogs can help people get onboard with the idea of life extension in humans, say researchers behind the work. “It will go a long way to convincing people that this is possible [in humans],” says Kaeberlein. “Aging is modifiable.” Read more …