In early November 2014, scientists from around the U.S. converged on Seattle to brainstorm the best ways to measure the effects of the drug rapamycin on the health and longevity of pet dogs. According to an article that Mike saw in The Seattle Times, “Rapamycin has emerged as the leading candidate among dozens of substances studied for anti-aging effects. Nearly 50 laboratory studies have shown that the compound can delay some diseases and degenerative processes and restore vigor to elderly animals, as well as extend average life spans by 9 to 40 percent.”
As my readers well know, I’m no fool. Not even 5 years old, every day I’m already taking daily dietary supplements (one comes from Trader Joe’s, certifying that it must be good for me). Longevity and vigor sounded good. So I wondered: Can Mike sign me up for this alleged wonder drug?
Ah, there’s the rub. Mike told me I’m too small for the early trials being conducted in Seattle. “The researchers, who got $200,000 in seed money from the University of Washington (UW), plan a pilot study of 30 large, middle-aged dogs,” the article says. According to the study’s website, dogagingproject.com, “We will most likely be forced to limit enrollment to mid-large-size dogs (70-100 pounds) in the 7-9 year-old range due to limited funding.” (It’s always about the Benjamins, right?)
When Mike first told me I was too young and too small, I was all ready to protest this blatant example of age and size discrimination. After all, this study was at least partially funded with public money. Small dogs are people, too. But Mike calmed me down by pointing out the researchers had thrown us diminutive breeds a bone: “Even if your dog does not qualify for the rapamycin study based on the current parameters, please do submit your pet for consideration. This will allow us to provide you with information as the study progresses, and to contact you when opportunities to expand the rapamycin study or to participate in other aspects of the project arise.”
Well, I figured, that’s better than nothing, and I called off the picket line I was planning to throw up with my pal Penny at the main entrance to the UW campus. I guess the pressure to move my participation along will now fall on Mike’s shoulders, or perhaps on his pocketbook. In the game of veterinary science, money talks. Will Mike kick in big-time dollars to push my name higher on the list for future studies? Or will he donate to saving elephants instead? That remains to be seen.
I don’t know how much I can depend on Mike for something like this. He can be a real tightwad sometimes. Maybe I should launch a Kickstarter campaign as insurance.
Even though I won’t be allowed in the UW study right away, there is one silver lining: No cats. “The initial study has to remain focused [on one species] in order to obtain meaningful data,” the website says. Let’s hope the big donors make them keep it that way.