Scientists discover secret to long life for pets
Scientists claim they may have discovered the secret to a longer life – but so far the treatment is only suitable for pets.
The potential cure for age is a drug which protects telomeres, sections of DNA long thought to be the key to the ageing process.
However, the treatment is not yet considered safe for humans, and may first be tested on dogs and cats by being added to pet food.
Scientists think that ageing is caused by the telomeres in our genes shortening over the course of our lifetime.
Now an American research team thinks it has found a way to slow or even reverse this shrinkage, according to The Sunday Times. This could theoretically lengthen our lifespan.
The team is led by Bill Andrews, a scientist based in Nevada who founded Sierra Sciences to find a way to induce cells to produce telomerase and protect themselves from decay. He made his name by helping to discover telomerase, an enzyme which apparently reverses the ageing process.
The new findings, which will be presented in August 2011 at a conference in Cambridge, suggest that nearly 40 different substances could contribute to the production of this enzyme.
“Inducing cells to produce telomerase would be a great medical advance,” Dr Andrews said.
“The substances we have found can achieve this but we have to be cautious and there is no chance of getting medical approval for human use for some years. For pets, however, the rules are much less stringent – and the market is potentially huge.”
The market for pet medicine has grown quickly over the last few years, and Britons now spend over £800 million per year on drugs for their 16 million cats and dogs.
Treatments currently available for pets include insulin injections, arthritis medication and tablets for indigestion.