Can old dogs teach us new tricks? Scientists are looking for 10,000 pets for the largest-ever study of aging in canines. And they hope to shed light on human longevity, too, per the AP. The project will collect a pile of pooch data: vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes, and information on food and walks. Five hundred dogs will test a pill that could slow the aging process. To nominate a pet, owners can visit the Dog Aging Project’s website. “What we learn will potentially be good for dogs and has great potential to translate to human health,” said project co-director Daniel Promislow of the University of Washington School of Medicine. If scientists find a genetic marker for a type of cancer in dogs, for instance, that could be explored in humans.
Owners will complete periodic online surveys and take their dogs to the vet once a year, with the possibility of extra visits for certain tests. Their welfare will be monitored by a bioethicist and a panel of animal welfare advisers. The five-year study was formally launched Thursday at a science meeting in Austin, Texas. The National Institute on Aging is paying for the $23 million project because dogs and humans share the same environment, get the same diseases, and dogs’ shorter lifespans allow quicker research results, said deputy director, Dr. Marie Bernard. The data collected will be available to all scientists.
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