The average dog lives just 13 years, but a study currently in progress at the University of Washington in Seattle may keep a group of 20 pups around significantly longer. The canines in the study are taking rapamycin, which has long been used as an anti-rejection agent for organ-transplant patients.
Only recently has rapamycin been found to positively affect longevity—a group of female mice treated with the drug lived 13 percent longer than their non-treated peers, while male mice experienced a nine percent increase. Rapamycin’s success in the mouse population, in conjunction with its relatively minor side effects, are what enabled research to progress to dogs. Scientists hope that the ultimate test subjects, of course, will be humans.
The quest for immortality has been around as long as we have, and rapamycin may represent a breakthrough in extending lifespan. Another drug which is already being used to postpone death is metformin, which has been a staple for decades in controlling diabetes. It’s far easier to get your hands on than rapamycin, which begs the question: Is it safe for doggies? Because I know a lot of pups I’d like to keep around for decades to come.