This Revolutionary Drug Could Help Extend the Lifespan of Dogs

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

In a groundbreaking trial that is set to launch in the United States, around 1,000 elderly dogs will be given a pill – in the form of a sweet treat – in the hope that their lives will be extended because of it. Behind this innovative work stands Loyal, a startup company based in Silicon Valley. They are currently gathering a number of senior dogs through a well-developed network of veterinary practices in all US states. The tests are set to launch before the end of 2023, after four years of complex studies.

In this case, all dogs must be over 10 years old in order to be included in the study. The study itself is set to be a “randomized double-blind placebo trial”. The director of veterinary medicine at Loyal, the company behind this trial, Dr. Brennen McKenzie, said for  Telegraph that this will “probably be the largest clinical trial in veterinary medical history”.

“We’re hoping to show that we can both increase the length of life and, more importantly, the length of time these dogs live healthy and happy and functional lives,” McKenzie states. “We’re looking at the length of time that dogs live on the drug and the placebo, hoping to show that we can extend their lifespan and also hoping to show that they develop less disease.”

What the study will potentially show is that dogs who receive the drug will live one year longer - on average compared to those who are taking the “placebo” drug. Still, the length of life gained is only one aspect, Dr McKenzie said at the North American Veterinary Community’s Veterinary Innovation Summit in Kansas CityMcKenzie also added that increasing health was their number one priority.

“We think of lifespan as the amount of time that you live but healthspan is the amount of time that you have good health, good function, good quality of life,” Dr McKenzie said. “That’s clearly the most important thing”.

All of this sounds quite “larger than life”, no pun intended. And, of course, with such advanced propositions, the trial drug and its contents are a closely guarded secret, especially due to commercial reasons. This will be the situation until the trial of the drug is finished. And if the drug happens to be as efficient as hoped, Loyal plans to place it on the market immediately, offering an affordable daily supplement that can extend the lives of dogs. 

“If we get through this four-year trial and we achieve our endpoints, the FDA will license us to sell this as a prescription medication and it will be the first medication ever to extend lifespan in any species,” Dr McKenzie said. “We are absolutely interested in a product that is accessible to the majority of pet owners.”

It is worth noting that the drug in question was already proven to be safe for consumption, and there is a low risk of this potential supplement causing any unwanted side effects. Loyal is a company that has two other products in the works, and they are also scheduled to undergo extensive tests. However, work is not yet finished, and one of the two is expected to go on trial around 2026. 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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