Veterinarians from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) are seeking middle-aged, healthy dogs of any breed, or combination of breeds, to participate in a clinical trial as part of its Dog Aging Project.
The growing focus of the aging research at Texas A&M—led by Dr. Kate Creevy, an associate professor in the CVM’s Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department—is to preserve function and extend a dog’s “healthspan,” rather than to treat age-related disease after it has already begun. “Healthspan” refers to the period of life when someone is active, healthy, and feeling good.
The second phase of Creevy’s project is a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind veterinary clinical trial in healthy, middle-aged dogs to test the hypothesis that the immunosuppressive drug rapamycin can improve age-related decline in cardiac function and increase healthspan in companion dogs.
Rapamycin has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in humans to prevent organ transplant rejection and certain forms of cancer. Rapamycin also has been studied in dogs with cancer as a chemotherapy drug.
In the study’s first phase, Creevy’s collaborative research team tested rapamycin in healthy dogs, finding evidence of mild improvements in the heart functions of those healthy dogs, with no significant side effects or adverse events.
Dogs enrolled in the second phase of Creevy’s study will receive rapamycin or a placebo three times a week for six months. They will have three follow up appointments throughout the course of one year and owners will be asked to complete regular surveys about their dog as the trial progresses.
To participate, dogs must be 6-10 years of age and weigh 40-80 pounds. At enrollment, dogs will receive a full physical exam, a full blood and urinalysis panel, a heartworm test, an echocardiogram, and participate in a cognitive assessment—all at no cost to pet owners.
Those interested in participating in the trial should complete the survey found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Rapa2_TAMU.
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