GEROSCIENCE: THE SCIENCE OF HEALTHY AGING

Age is the greatest risk factor for nearly every major cause of death and disability in developed nations. The field of Geroscience seeks to understand the relationship between the biology of aging and age-related disease. By defining the molecular mechanisms of biological aging, Geroscience promises to yield interventions to delay aging and promote healthy longevity.Figure 1

 

Currently, there are two well-documented methods for slowing aging in laboratory organisms ranging from single cells to complex mammals such as mice.  The first is dietary restriction (also known as caloric restriction), which refers to a reduction in food availability in the absence of malnutrition.  The second is the FDA approved drug rapamycin.

Rapamycin, in particular, has outstanding potential to slow aging in people and their pets.  In mice, providing rapamycin in the diet starting at the equivalent of a 60 year old human (or a 7-9 year old large dog) is sufficient to significantly extend lifespan and delay a variety of age-associated disease processes.  One of the earliest and most striking effects of rapamycin is an apparent reversal of age-related heart dysfunction.  Cancer, immune decline, and cognitive decline are all similarly delayed by rapamycin in mice.

We believe it is likely that rapamycin can used safely in companion animals today to slow aging and improve health during middle-age.  As Geroscience research progresses, even more powerful approaches are likely to be discovered. In addition, these discoveries have the potential to improve healthspan in humans, not just in their companion animals.

Healthy Longevity Is the Key

Healthspan is the period of time during which an organism enjoys relatively good health, free from chronic disease and disability.  The vast majority of diseases that people in developed countries suffer and die from are age-related.  In fact, age is the single greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, and most forms of cancer.

Why is that, and more importantly, what can we do about it?

Aging results from specific molecular processes that can be modulated by genetic and environmental parameters.  As we continue to understand these molecular processes better, we have the opportunity to develop therapies that can slow, prevent, and potentially reverse them.  This is the promise of Geroscience, both for people and for our pets.

The Dog Aging Project is a unique opportunity to advance scientific discovery while simultaneously providing enormous benefit for people and their pets.  We believe that enhancing the longevity and healthspan – the healthy period of life – in peoples’ pets will have a major impact on our lives.