1,000 American dogs required for life extension drug trial
An 11-year-old Whippet called Boo is the first dog enrolled in a study to trial a drug designed to extend the healthy lifespan of senior dogs of almost all sizes. On the back of excitement generated by the drug’s predecessor, which was made for large-breed dogs, the researchers are calling on owners of older dogs across the US to enroll in the study.
Big dogs like Great Danes and Newfoundlands may only live seven to eight years, compared with the average lifespan of little ones like Chihuahuas and Miniature Poodles, who can live up to 20 years. Selectively breeding large- and giant-breed dogs has led to them having levels of IGF-1, a hormone that drives cell growth and is part of the longevity pathway in animals and humans, up to 28 times higher than that of small dogs. Administered by vets every three-to-six months, LOY-001 inhibits IGF-1 overexpression and extends a large dog’s healthy lifespan.
In late November 2023, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine agreed that data in relation to LOY-001, a drug developed by animal health biotech company Loyal to extend the healthy lifespan of large-breed dogs, supported a “reasonable expectation of effectiveness.” This is the first time the FDA has accepted a drug to extend the lifespan of any species by reducing age-related disease.
While LOY-001 is not expected to hit the market until around 2026, the announcement was enthusiastically embraced by large-breed dog owners and the press. Some of the coverage can be seen in the video below by Loyal.
Dog lover and Beef series creator Lee Sung Jin even gave a shout-out to the FDA during an acceptance speech at the 2024 Emmy Awards ceremony, urging them to fast-track “that canine anti-aging pill.” But the hype about LOY-001 prompted an important question: What about a pill for smaller dogs?
In response, Loyal announced on the 1st of February that they’ve started testing LOY-002, a daily pill designed to extend a healthy lifespan in senior dogs of all but the smallest sizes. An 11-year-old Whippet called Boo was the first to be dosed as part of the STAY study. His owner, Deb Hanna, enrolled Boo in the study because, despite his age, he’s still very energetic.
“That’s one of the reasons I enrolled him,” said Hanna. “It could help other dogs, including my younger dogs, someday. It’s very important. I think anybody that has an older dog that could participate would jump at the chance.”
The STAY study is being conducted in – or coming soon to – 55 veterinary clinics across the US, and the researchers are calling for over 1,000 pawticipants of different breeds, ages, health, behavior and geographical location. All dogs recruited for the study must be 10 years or older at the time of enrollment and weigh 14 lb (6.4 kg) or more. Since it’s a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, only half of the dogs will receive LOY-002, and owners must commit to participate for up to four years.
As they did with LOY-001, Loyal is pursuing conditional FDA approval of LOY-002. The eventual arrival on the market of lifespan-extending drugs like these will ultimately mean more healthy years for the dogs we love, which can never be a bad thing.