Dogs, the key to the Fountain of Youth? [Opinion]

The brains of Silicon Valley have a new fad: to develop solutions to extend life.

This research is as old as the world. Fads have passed since the 80s, from the diet to ingesting dozens of pills in the morning, to having stem cells injected into the brain ... The most extreme experiments have remained on the margins and are not supported by medical evidence.

Recently, a 26-year-old young woman, Céline Halioua, launched a start-up, Cellular Longevity Inc, whose object is to develop treatments to extend the life expectancy of dogs. When we have proven their effectiveness, it is certain that the public and the regulator will be ready to use and adapt these treatments for human beings. "Dogs are the best models", asserts this young entrepreneur. “We grew up with them and shared our home. Like us, they are susceptible to getting sick in their old age. If we can do it for dogs, we can adapt it for ourselves. " Under the brand "Loyal", $ 11 million has been raised and the first tests are scheduled for early 2022.

A sizeable obstacle stands on the path leading to the Fountain of Youth: pharmaceutical companies do not want to invest in clinical trials that would last for decades. In addition, health authorities approve treatments that correspond to identified diseases. For these reasons, promising anti-aging protocols could not be tested on people. However, the idea of ​​trying on dogs is not entirely new. Nearly 30 owners have registered their four-legged companions in the "Dog Aging Project" funded and supported by the US Agency for Medical Research, le National Institutes of Health. The aim is to study how genetic and environmental factors influence the aging of canines. In addition, nearly 200 adult dogs will receive treatment based on rapamycin, already used in humans to prevent certain types of cancer and organ transplant rejection.

According to Matt Kaeberlein, co-director of the project, rapamycin has the major advantage of slowing or even reversing the aging process of the tissues observed. Despite this recognized potential, this drug does not have a good reputation because it causes significant side effects. But, still according to Kaeberlein, this drawback is due to the large doses received by transplant recipients. He expects much better results from the low doses mixed with peanut butter served to dogs. Convinced, he himself used rapamycin to calm inflammation. We already know that imposing a calorie reduction on dogs can extend their life expectancy by two years on average. The scientists involved recommend combining this dietary practice with rapamycin-based treatment to lengthen the life of dogs by 50% or even 70%.

Céline Halioua, who studied neuroscience at Oxford, intends to develop two treatments with the aim of having them approved in 2024. The great benefit of using dogs, which stay comfortably with their owners, is that the tests can be completed in three to five years. It is therefore less complicated and more interesting than with young mice which must be genetically modified to develop early aging. Asked by Ashlee Vance for Bloomberg Businessweek (see article in link below), Céline Halioua is convinced that the success of an anti-aging treatment among our faithful companions will arouse the interest of the general public as well as of the regulator. "We have succeeded in considerably extending the life of our guinea pigs hundreds of times, but everyone outside scientific circles does not care because they are mice ... If we manage to lengthen the life of the man's best friend, their owners should take an interest in it. " When I tell my dog ​​that ...

Ludovic Lavaucelle

source: Bloomberg

This article is published from Selection of the day.

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