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Daniel Promislow interviewed by KUOW on the “Dog Aging Project” [AUDIO]

Thursday, January 18, 2024 - 09:00

Daniel Promislow, UW Biology Professor, was recently interviewed by KUOW on the “Dog Aging Project,” which he co-founded to study how dogs age. 

Dogs share so much of their lives with humans and can develop the same health conditions we do, like dementia or diabetes. Those similarities drove researchers to wonder if our medical science can help dogs live longer — and if maybe, our furry friends could tell us something about how we age, too.

But five years and 47,000 dogs later, an ambitious longitudinal study on dog aging is at risk of losing its funding.

The "Dog Aging Project" began in 2019 as a collaboration between researchers at the University of Washington and Texas A&M University. Their goal: get 10,000 volunteers to enroll their dogs for a study about how they aged. As a longitudinal study, the project would track health problems like dementia and cancer, and researchers were hopeful an ambitious catalog of data could tell them more about how dogs might live longer.

"Anyone who goes to a dog park immediately sees that dogs have got to be one of the most variable species on the planet," said Dr. Daniel Promislow, a biogerontologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "And not just in terms of their size, shape, color, and behavior. It turns out they're also incredibly variable in their patterns of aging."

Participants in the project fill out surveys every year about their environments, their dogs' health, and their dogs' diets. Around 7,000 dogs have provided genetic information, allowing the project to sequence their genetic code and understand the specific genes associated with healthy aging or risk factors. A subset of 1,000 dogs are sent a kit for blood, hair, fecal, and urine samples. An even smaller group — around 580 dogs — are enrolled in a clinical trial testing a drug called rapamycin, a kind of anti-aging drug.

Read and listen to the full interview on KUOW.

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