Rapamycin, a drug that has been shown to increase the lifespan of mice by up to 60% longer, is now being researched as an anti-aging drug for dogs and humans alike. Could you imagine having your pup around for years longer than his anticipated lifetime? Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well the team of researchers at the University of Washington’s Dog Aging Project gave the drug to 16 dogs and then studied their hearts. Matt Kaeberlein, co-director of the project, concluded, “It started to function better. It started to look like a more youthful heart.” However, hesitations abound.
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So buyer beware! This anti-aging pill has the potential to be life-changing, but it just as well could be highly disastrous. We’ve seen this many times before — Big Pharma has introduced promising drugs (think: Fen-Phen and Luvox) that were deemed to be wonder drugs right off the bat. But after a few years of using them, the disastrous side effects seemed to ceaselessly pour out.
Similar medications, such as Rapamune and Afinitor, pose a threatening list of severe side effects including cancer and diabetes. “You have to be concerned about these side effects,” Kaeberlein confessed.
CNN’s report on Rapamycin, which aired earlier this month, was the first time I’d heard of this potential miracle drug, but it seems even the researcher himself is exceedingly skeptical about recommending such a medication without the completion of further research. So although in essence this drug sounds great, the jury is still out on whether or not Rapamycin can be used in our aging pets to keep them living longer and healthier.
Dr. Katy Nelson is the mother of five – two human and three animal – kids, an avid nutrition and fitness enthusiast, and an admittedly rabid Louisiana sports fan. She is an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, VA., as well as the host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8. A Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ) accredited by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ), Dr. Katy is the Animal Health Reporter for ABC7 News, and serves as “Dr. Pawz” on WTOP Radio. Dr. Katy is also a founding partner of PetsMove.org, a national health and fitness initiative aimed at getting people healthy alongside their dogs, and serves as a media and marketing consultant for numerous pet-related companies and media outlets.
A lover of all animals, Dr. Katy carves out time for many charitable organizations in the DC area and beyond. She is also the co-executive producer on “Tell Them I Am Kind,” a documentary set to air on the PBS Broadcasting network in 2015. The documentary tells the story of the family of Catherine Violet Hubbard, one of the 20 children killed in December of 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and their mission to build an animal sanctuary in her honor.