Can Extending Dog Lives Also Extend Human Lives?
Dog science has surprisingly relevant applications here
Recent research suggests that happy people tend to live longer lives. Research also suggests that having pets can improve people’s mental health. Doing some quick math here, then, indicates that the key to longevity might well have four legs and a tail. But one of the down sides of owning a dog, cat or rabbit is the fact that they have far shorter lifespans than humans — and eventually, you’re going to have to say goodbye. It’s a heartbreaking moment.
It’s also something that could be much less frequent, if a current thread of scientific research plays out. Much as Silicon Valley has explored ways to keep the aging process at bay for humans, so too are researchers there exploring ways to increase the lifespan of our canine companions.
A new article by Ashlee Vance at Bloomberg Businessweek takes a survey of this line of thought and the scientific efforts in place to make it a reality. Vance spoke with Celine Halioua of the startup Loyalty — which has a website touting its efforts to make dogs’ lives longer and better, as well as plans to begin clinical trials on a pair of compounds next year.
Halioua pointed to the ways in which scientists often look to dogs to study how humans age. “We have co-evolved with them, and they have a shared environment with us,” Halioua told Vance. “They also develop age-related diseases over time. If we can do this for dogs, people will want it, too.”
The goal, then, is to come up with something that can prolong dogs’ lives which might offer humans longer lives as well. Should this come to fruition, it could be another way for two interconnected species to make another leap forward.
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