Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
World
Home / World / Kaleidoscope

10,000 dogs needed for study of aging

China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-18 10:35
Researcher Daniel Promislow rubs the head of his elderly dog Frisbee at their home in Seattle on Nov 11. ELAINE THOMPSON/AP

SEATTLE, Washington - Can old dogs teach us new tricks? Scientists are looking for 10,000 pets for the largest-ever study of aging in canines. They hope to shed light on human longevity too.

The project will collect a pile of pooch data: vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes and information on food and walks. Five hundred dogs will test a pill that could slow the aging process.

"What we learn will potentially be good for dogs and has great potential to translate to human health," said project co-director Daniel Promislow of the University of Washington School of Medicine.

If scientists find a genetic marker for a type of cancer in dogs, for instance, that could be explored in humans.

For the study, the participating dogs will live at home and follow their usual routine. All ages and sizes, purebreds and mutts are welcome.

Owners will complete periodic online surveys and take their dogs to the vet once a year, with the possibility of extra visits for certain tests. Their welfare will be monitored by a bioethicist and a panel of animal welfare advisers.

To nominate a pet, owners must visit the Dog Aging Project's website.

The five-year study was formally launched on Thursday at a science meeting in Austin, Texas. The US National Institute on Aging is paying for the $23 million project because dogs and humans share the same environment, get the same diseases and dogs' shorter life spans allow quicker research results, said deputy director, Marie Bernard. The data collected will be available to all scientists.

Leslie Lambert of Parkville, Maryland, enrolled her 11-year-old rescue dog, Oscar, in an early phase.

"I would selfishly like to have him around forever," said the 33-year-old veterinarian. "Unfortunately, he ages much, much faster than I do."

But she's torn by the prospect of an anti-aging pill because so many abandoned dogs go without care. "Just because we can, should we?"

Compared to farm dogs in the past, today's pampered pups live longer and get more geriatric diseases, said veterinarian Kate Creevy of Texas A&M University, the project's chief scientific officer.

Yet no standard measures exist for frailty or prognosis in sick, aged dogs, Creevy said. The project will develop those tools.

Human devotion to dogs drives projects like this, the scientists said. Owners will gladly fill out surveys, send records and submit a pup's poop for analysis if they think it will help all dogs live longer, even if it won't help their pet.

Associated Press

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Top
BACK TO THE TOP
English
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349
FOLLOW US