The Lamen

New drug promises large dogs a longer lifespan

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A San Francisco-based startup is inching closer to FDA approval for its drug that promises to extend the lifespan of large dogs.

Photo: Unsplash

Published on Dec 4, 2023

The longevity industry isn’t just looking at humans: A drug that could extend the lifespans of large dogs inches closer to FDA approval, anticipated to be available in 2026.

Details: Loyal for Dogs — a San Francisco-based biotech company — revealed that the drug it’s developing, LOY-001, has cleared one of the FDA’s hurdles required for their Expanded Conditional Approval.

  • LOY-001 works by reducing the levels of the growth-promoting hormone 1GF-1, which is believed to reduce the lifespan of large dogs.
  • The statement notes that 1GF-1 levels can be up to 28 times greater in large dogs compared to small ones — resulting in the expected lifespan of bigger dogs to be “nearly half” of smaller breeds.
  • The drug has shown a “beneficial impact on functional outcomes in dogs” — shown through studying the biomarker impacts of canine aging.

Yes, but: While Loyal’s drug works by reducing IGF-1 levels to improve the lifespan of large dogs, another study published last month reported another possible culprit — a gene called ERBB4.

A dog’s size and its expected lifespan have an inverse relationship: Their lives seem to pan out in “fast motion,” succumbing to age-related illnesses and cancer earlier in life, according to the American Kennel Club.

  • Small dogs had an average lifespan of 14.95 years, while large dogs lived an average of 13.38 years. Large breeds like Bernese mountain dogs, Newfoundlands, and Great Danes live between 8 to 10 years.
  • Smaller breeds generally live for 10 to 15 years, although some like Chihuahuas and Mini Poodles can live as long as 20 years.
  • Larger or overweight dogs are also more likely to have joint disease or breathing conditions, and an overall poorer quality of life.

Watch out: Loyal’s experimental drug is an injection meant to be given every three to six months by a veterinarian, noted Wired, but the company is also developing two other drugs: a pill version for large breeds, and a pill for older dogs of all breeds.

  • The drug will “need to show more than a few months of life extension” and “clear a high safety bar” to interest pet owners, veterinary geneticist Danika Bannasch told Wired.
  • “We’re going to be going for claiming at least one year of healthy life span extension,” told Celine Halioua, founder and CEO of Loyal, to the NYT.

This is also the first time the FDA has indicated some willingness to endorse a longevity drug, which will likely have some implications for similar drugs targeting humans.