Two University of Washington scientists think it might be possible to slow the aging process in canines and are launching a pilot study with 30 dogs to see if the drug rapamycin significantly extends their lifespans.
The researchers, using $200,000 in seed money from the University of Washington, plan to use pets, not laboratory animals, for the initial study, and recruit volunteer dogs — or at least dogs whose owners volunteer them — for larger scale studies in the future.
Daniel Promislow, an evolutionary geneticist, and Matthew Kaeberlein, a molecular biologist, say the study is aimed at determining whether rapamycin could lead to longer lives for dogs — as studies have shown is the case when it’s used on yeast, fruit flies, worms and mice.
“We’re not talking about doubling the healthy life spans of pets,” said Kaeberlein. “But at a minimum I would predict that you would get a 10 to 15 percent increase in average life span, and I think bigger effects are possible.”
In the pilot study, 30 large, middle-aged dogs will be involved — half receiving low doses of rapamycin, half receiving placebos.
The researchers say that subsequent studies will seek to enroll pet dogs from across the country.
Kaeberlein and Promislow hosted a meeting in Seattle last week where experts from across the country discussed the drug rapamycin and its possible effects on the health and longevity of dogs, the Seattle Times reported.
Currently used along with other medications to prevent rejection in organ-transplant patients, rapamycin has been called a promising anti-aging drug — though there have been no studies involving humans.
But almost 50 laboratory studies have shown that the compound can delay the onset of some diseases and degenerative processes and restore vigor to elderly animals, extending life spans by 9 to 40 percent.
Rapamycin functions, in part, by inactivating a protein that promotes cell growth. As a result, cells grow more slowly, which retards the spread of cancer.
Promislow, who has two elderly dogs of his own, noted that even if the drug doesn’t increase the life span of dogs, it could serve to keep them healthy longer. “We’re trying to understand why some dogs age better than others, and help all dogs age in a better way,” he said.
The drug has been shown to have serious side effects, including poor wound healing and an increased risk of diabetes, when used at the high doses required for organ transplant patients.
But the low doses used in anti-aging research with mice and other lab animals cause few side effects.
There have been no large-scale human trials. Studying how the drug affects dogs — who suffer many of the same old-age ailments as their masters — makes it possible to explore the possible benefits of rapamycin both more quickly and at a lesser cost.
If it does turn out to be a sort of fountain of youth — for dogs, humans, or both — the potential profits would be enormous.
“I think it’s worth a go, not just from what it can teach us about humans, but for the sake of the animals themselves,” said University of Alabama Biology Department Chairman Steven Austad, an expert in aging research who is not involved in the project. “It may not work in dogs, but if it did, boy, it’s going to be huge.”
According to the Seattle Times article, drug companies aren’t very interested in rapamycin because it’s no longer under patent.
But the researchers are hoping dog lovers, dog-food companies and some foundations might be willing to contribute to further research.
They’ve set up a website, dogagingproject.com,where people can donate and sign their dogs up to take part in the research.
“Given how I feel about my pets, I see this as a unique project where there’s a real potential for citizen science,” Kaeberlein said. “I think it would be great if pet owners who are really interested in improving the health of their animals would help fund this work.”
(Photos: UW scientists Matt Kaeberlein, with his dog Dobby, and Dan Promislow, with his dog Frisbee; by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anti aging, anti aging drug, biology, cancer, cells, citizen science, compound, Daniel Promislow, death, dog, dogs, drug, drugs, extending, fountain of youth, funding, geneticist, health, ifespan, laboratory, life, lifespans, lives, longer, Matthew Kaeberlein, molecular, pets, rapamycin, research, sickness, study, university of washington
So — yucky as it is — it’s only right to share some news that shows the reverse side of the equation can be true, too.
According to a report from the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, dogs in Berlin are being sickened by human feces left in some public parks frequented by drug users.
Veterinarians say they’ve seen an increase in such poisonings.
Dogs who ingest the waste show symptoms that include shaking, dehydration and difficulty walking. Tests on dogs have found heroin and other illegal drugs present in their systems.
Vets say most cases took place in parks the city’s Treptow and Kreuzberg areas, where drug users are known to gather, especially at night.
Berlin-based veterinarian Reinhold Sassnau told Tagesspiegel that the poisonings are rarely fatal. Most dogs recover if they quickly receive treatment, which includes inducing vomiting. Otherwise, prolonged treatment might be required.
Just something to keep in mind next time you (or your dog) step in a pile of dog poop (or is it?) at the park.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: addicts, berlin, defecation, dog, dog poop, drug, environment, feces, germany, hazard, health, heroin, human, human poop, ingesting, parks, poop, public, toilets, users, waste
Police in Fayetteville, N.C., say they are still investigating an officer’s fatal shooting of a pit bull during a drug raid in July, but the owner — who had left the dog in the care of friends — thinks she is owed some answers.
“The police are supposed to protect and serve, not kill and destroy,” Victoria Thompson told the Fayetteville Observer. “I want the officer responsible for maliciously murdering my baby held accountable.”
Thompson has been waiting since July 17 to find out why Queen, her 4-year-old pit bull, was shot to death as officers executed a search warrant at a friend’s house.
Thompson was a friend of one of the house’s two occupants, and had left Queen with him while she was moving from Fayetteville to Atlanta.
The home’s occupants, Justin Bernard Harris and Taurean Forte, were charged with drug-related violations after the search, according to Fayetteville police.
Queen was in a bedroom asleep when police burst into the room, according to Thompson.
Assistant Chief Brad Chandler said one of the suspects was hiding in the bedroom closet. When officers entered the room, the dog came toward them in an aggressive manner, Chandler said.
The officer who shot the dog has not been identified.
Fayetteville police shot seven animals in 2011 and 12 in 2012, according to a report compiled by the Office of Professional Standards and Inspections.
Asked why non-lethal means weren’t used to control the dog, Chandler said, “If we’re using a Taser, we can’t defend ourselves. You’re going into a drug house and in a split second, you have a huge pit bull coming at you. There’s no way you have got that time. Do you want to risk that?”
Thompson said police offered her compensation for Queen’s death.
“That’s like asking how much is your daughter’s or son’s life worth,” she said. “I want a proper burial for my baby and an apology from the officer responsible, because he unjustly murdered her. But more than anything I want justice for my Queen.”
Posted by John Woestendiek September 5th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, answers, dog, dogs, drug, executed, fayetteville, killed, law enforcement, north carolina, officer, owner, pets, pit bull, pitbull, police, queen, raid, search warrant, seeks, shooting, shot, visiting
About 150 people gathered for a memorial service at the Thomasville Funeral Home.
Police Chief Jeffrey Insley said before the service that an autopsy determined that Cheko — a drug-detecting dog who also was trained as a tracker — had been poisoned, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. He was one of four dogs in the K-9 unit.
Cheko died in March, just a week before he was scheduled to retire, at the Randolph County home of his handler, Thomasville Police Sgt. John Elgin. Elgin found Cheko dead inside his kennel, about two days after the dog started acting sluggish.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department is investigating how the dog ingested the poison. Elgin said additional tests will be conducted to determine what chemicals or poisons killed Cheko.
“It could have been an act of retaliation from a past arrest, but we are not going to point any fingers until we complete our investigation,” he said.
“Any new dog who takes Cheko’s place will have big paws to fill,” Insley said at the service.
Among those paying tribute to Cheko was Thomasville Mayor Joe Bennett told the audience, Cheko had gone to heaven. “I doubt there are drugs there, but he is looking for something and having fun.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cheko, dead, detecting, died, dog, dogs, drug, funeral, john elgin, K-9, k9, killed, law enforcement, memorial, north carolina, pets, poison, poisoned, police, randolph county, sniffing, thomasville, tribute
A drug raid at a home in west Baltimore Friday night led to the discovery of six badly injured pit bulls who had apparently been used for fighting.
The dogs — all with bite wounds, some scarred over, some still bleeding — were seized by police and were being cared for at Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS).
“It is heart breaking to see beautiful, friendly dogs with such severe wounds and knowing what they were put through, said BARCS Executive Director Jennifer Brause. “The dogs will not be available for adoption until investigations have been resolved. In the meantime, our dedicated staff will treat their wounds, shower them with love and attention, and provide the best possible care.”
The puppies, all seized from a home on Edgemont Avenue, in the city’s Druid Hill section, were all underweight, with their ribs and spines clearly visible, BARCS staff said. One of them was a puppy, about three months old.
Police confiscated paraphernalia associated with training dogs for fighting, including a treadmill with attachments for a harness, a bite ball, and heavy chains.
BARCS is accepting donations to help provide veterinary treatment for these dogs. Donations can be made online at www.BaltimoreAnimalShelter.org, at the shelter, or through the mail: BARCS Franky Fund, 301 Stockholm Street, Baltimore, MD, 21230.
According to WJZ, police were unable to say whether anyone was arrested in connection with the raid, or what, if any charges were filed. A neighbor told a WJZ reporter that she noticed different dogs at the residence, off an on, and that their caretakers allowed them to fight. “One would hold a dog by the leash, a one would hold the other dog by the leash, and they would just let them go at it for about a minute or so.”
BARCS officials say they are hoping all six dogs recover, but that two of them are in pretty bad shape.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal welfare, animals, baltimore, baltimore animal rescue & care shelter, barcs, crime, cruelty, dog, dogfighting, dogs, drug, fighting, neglect, news, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, raid, rescue, seized, shelter
Jury selection begins today in the firearms possession trial of twin brothers accused of setting fire to a pit bull in May.
Travers and Tremayne Johnson, both 18, and their father, Charles Johnson, were charged in June with possession of firearms and marijuana.
Police say they found drugs and weapons in a raid conducted at the Johnsons’ South Pulaski Street home in connection with the investigation into the burning of a pit bull rescuers dubbed “Phoenix.”
Prosecutors opted to try the brothers and their 76-year-old father on the firearms case before the twins trial on animal cruelty charges.
The brothers were indicted by a Baltimore grand jury in November on aggravated animal abuse charges. They pleaded not guilty in December.
Phoenix had been doused with gasoline and set on fire when a police officer spotted the dog and put the fire out with her jacket. Phoenix had burns over more than 95 percent of her. She lived several days, but had to be euthanized due to complications resulting from her injuries.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, burned, charges, charles johnson, courts, dogs, doused, drug, father, fire, firearms, gasoline, gun, jury selection, news, ohmidog!, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pitbull, set, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial, twins, weapons
Baltimore County Police yesterday announced the arrest of three people they say were involved in a dogfighting ring in North Point.
The charges stemmed from a November investigation into an assault, during which officers were made aware of rival drug groups in the 7500-block of Lange Street.
The two rival groups had been responsible for disorder in the neighborhood for months, police said.
After an investigation, detectives served two search warrants and dicovered three aggressive pit bulls and dogfighting paraphernalia that included weights, chains, veterinary syringes and medicines, steroids, collars and a treadmill.
Police charged three suspects in the case with possession of marijuana and cruelty to animals — Nicole Marie Caruso, 26; Romy Bolgier, 28; and Michael Ecker, 25. All were listed as living on the 7500-block of Lange Street.
(Photo: Baltmore County Police Department)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: arrests, baltimore, chains, collars, county, dealing, dog fighting, dogfighting, drug, gangs, investigation, northpoint, pit bulls, pitbulls, police, steroids, supplies, syringes, treadmill, veterinary, weights