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11-29-2023

Want to extend your dog's lifespan? A new drug shows promise

A biotech firm based in San Francisco (Loyal), is making strides in the development of a drug that could potentially increase the lifespan of dogs by at least one year. 

The Food and Drug Administration for Veterinary Medicine recently affirmed that the data for Loyal’s drug candidate, LOY-001, shows promising signs of effectiveness. This advancement brings the possibility of veterinarians prescribing this longevity drug to our canine companions a step closer to reality.

Large dog breeds 

Slated for a 2026 launch, LOY-001 is designed to specifically target cellular mechanisms in large and giant dog breeds. These breeds, known for their rapid aging and shorter lifespans compared to smaller breeds, could benefit significantly from this intervention. 

“The extreme phenotypic variety found in dogs is not ‘natural’ – it’s the result of intensive breeding by humans to create dogs that excelled at tasks such as herding, protection, and companionship,” explained Brennen McKenzie, Loyal’s director of veterinary medicine.

How does the drug work?

The drug operates by addressing the genetic anomaly of increased IGF-1 levels, a growth-promoting hormone, which is believed to curtail the lifespan of larger dogs. Studies indicate that larger dogs have IGF-1 levels up to 28 times higher than those of smaller breeds. LOY-001 seeks to reduce these levels, thereby potentially extending the healthy life of larger dogs.

Loyal’s research indicates that this innovative drug development could offer hope in extending the lifespan and healthspan of large dogs by targeting mechanisms associated with their accelerated aging. The drug, if approved, would be administered by vets as an injection every three to six months, but only for dogs that are seven years or older and weigh at least 40 pounds.

Research implications 

Loyal is also working on other products like LOY-002, a daily pill for medium to giant breeds, and LOY-003, targeting large and giant breeds only. Celine Halioua, Loyal’s CEO, envisions that this is just the beginning, with potential implications for human longevity as well. “We are not going to make 80-year-old dogs,” Halioua stated, emphasizing the realistic goals of their research.

Inspired by her experience in an oncology clinic at 18, Halioua was moved to tackle aging in dogs. “Feeling that lack of freewill, that lack of ability to control your destiny when it comes to your health completely freaked me out,” she said.

Clinical trial phase

Currently, Loyal is in the “companion dog clinical study” phase, conducting large-scale nationwide studies to evaluate the drug’s safety and efficacy in real-world veterinary settings. With over 1,000 dogs across the US participating in this four-year study, Loyal aims to conduct thorough testing before seeking FDA approval for prescription use.

Loyal, a subsidiary of Cellular Longevity, a San Francisco-based biotech firm, focuses on researching how drugs can control pathological aging mechanisms to prolong life. This endeavor to delay the onset and reduce the severity of age-related diseases could mark a significant advancement in veterinary medicine and beyond.

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