Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity: The Search for a Pill That Can Extend Dogs’ (and Humans’) Lifespans

The Search for a Pill that Can Help Dogs – and Humans – Live Longer
Celine Halioua, in a crouch, greets Bocce – a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix, with soulful eyes of brown, as if it were a long lost friend. She chirps, \”Oh my god, you are so beautiful!\” They have just met upstairs at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, San Francisco. Light streams through the windows and urine is occasionally sprayed onto the floor. Around a dozen old dogs, no taller than the height of a kneecap putter about on the gray linoleum, or nap on blankets. Bocce’s head rests in Halioua’s lap when she kneels with her dark hair falling over her shoulder.

The tragedy of the human-canine relationship is that Halioua, a dog of 28 years old, is still in her prime while Bocce, a 10-year-old pup is considered to be old. Bocce is a lucky dog. Dog lifespan is inversely related to body size, so many dogs will only be able to dream about living as long as this dog. Elephants outlive mice and mosquitoes, which is the opposite pattern of animal life. A Chihuahua will live about 15 years; an Irish Wolfhound or Great Dane, around 7 or 8 years.

Halioua is hopeful that Loyal, the startup named after her black slim T-shirt and a bioengineering project dating back 14,000 years or more can fix this bug. She founded the company in 2019 and is its CEO. The company develops drugs that delay dogs’ aging and increase their lifespan. She has raised $58 million, and two drugs are in development. She hopes that in a few short years she will have the first commercially available drug – for any species – to state on its label that it slows down aging or increases lifespan. Halioua believes that this would be an incredible achievement, but she sees it as the springboard for a greater feat – creating drugs similar to those used in humans.


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