LVMC’s Cardiology Service Partners with Dog Aging Project
The Cardiology Service is excited to participate in the Dog Aging Project, an innovative initiative that brings together a community of dogs, owners, veterinarians, researchers, and volunteers to carry out the most ambitious canine science project in the world. The Dog Aging Project is centered on two fundamental goals: understanding the genetic and environmental factors that cause aging in dogs and intervening to increase healthy longevity.
The Dog Aging Project involves a team of 40+ researchers, led by Dr. Daniel Promislow and Dr. Matt Kaeberlein at the University of Washington and Dr. Kate Creevy at Texas A&M. It will follow the health and aging of tens of thousands of companion dogs for ten years.
The researchers intend to identify the biological and environmental factors that maximize healthy longevity to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of age-related diseases. What they learn about dog aging will teach us about human aging, too, helping us and our dogs live longer, healthier lives. This study will be the largest long-term study of aging in dogs ever. Dogs of all ages, from all around the United States, including purebred and mixed breed dogs, are invited to join the Dog Aging Project.
Among the dogs enrolled in the overall study, a small subset (~500 dogs that meet specific research criteria) will be selected for participation in an interventional trial of an FDA-approved drug that may delay the aging process. The drug, called rapamycin, has been shown to increase lifespan and delay the negative effects of aging in mice. In particular, researchers hypothesize that this drug may have protective effects on the heart. That’s where veterinary cardiologists, including Dr. Jessica Ward and Dr. Melissa Tropf of the LVMC Cardiology Service, come in.
Dogs in this “TRIAD” trial (Test of Rapamycin in Aging Dogs) will be followed every six months by veterinary cardiologists at one of seven veterinary teaching hospitals across the country, including Iowa State. These visits will include head-to-toe physical examinations, collection of blood samples, and in-depth cardiac assessments including echocardiography (heart ultrasound) and electrocardiography (EKG).
“From our perspective, TRIAD visits will be just like our typical cardiology appointments – the difference is that all of the test results will contribute to science,” said Dr. Ward. “Dr. Tropf and I are honored that Iowa State was chosen to participate in this ambitious project to advance our understanding of canine health and disease.”