The Benefits of Rapamycin for Dogs

The Benefits of Rapamycin for Dogs

The benefits of rapamycin for dogs, both in longevity and health, have become increasingly clear over the last five years of scientific study and use within the Dog Aging Project.  Here is what we know so far about rapamycin for dogs.

Rapamycin, also known as sirolimus, is a compound that was initially developed as an antifungal agent but has since been widely used as an immunosuppressant and anticancer drug in humans.  However, the most intriguing benefit of rapamycin for dogs and for humans is increasing lifespan, which is currently thought to be modulated primarily by cancer prevention.

The key benefits of rapamycin for dogs, as with humans, center around its use to extend both health and longevity.  Rapamycin's ability to extend not only life but health span was well documented by the NIA ITP studies, which have shown its benefits repeatedly over multiple stuies. 

Here are some key benefits of rapamycin for dogs, as proven by science:

  1. Cardiac Health: Studies suggest that rapamycin may have beneficial effects on heart function in dogs. A study conducted by Kaeberlein, et al demonstrated improvements in heart health in dogs suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy, a common form of heart disease in dogs where the heart becomes weakened and enlarged.  Here's what is most intriguing:  the cardiac benefit of rapamycin for dogs was highest in dogs with the worst heart function before the study.

  2. Aging and Longevity: Current science tells us that rapamycin might extend lifespan and improve health during aging, both for dogs and humans.. Studies have shown that rapamycin can extend lifespan and improve health span in every mammalian species studied to date, and there is hope that similar effects could be seen in dogs. Studies like the Dog Aging Project are examining whether rapamycin can improve lifespan and health span in pet dogs.

  3. Cancer: Rapamycin has been proven beneficial in fighting several forms of cancer, due to its immunosuppressive and anti-proliferative properties.  It has shown particular benefit against hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, melanoma, and transitional cell carcinomas of the bladder.  However, it did not confer a survival benefit in a recent metastudy of osteosarcoma in dogs.   It may also help in slowing the growth of tumors and improving the effectiveness of other cancer treatments.

  4. Reducing Musculoskeletal Inflammation:  The Kaeberlein study mentioned above showed that another key benefit of rapamycin for dogs was its ability to reduce musculoskeletal aches and pains, resulting in patients that were both more active and more affectionate while on rapamycin.
  5. Immune System Modulation: Rapamycin modifies immune responses, which can be beneficial in treating autoimmune diseases in dogs where reducing immune system activity is beneficial, such as chronic allergies and IBD.

What don't we know yet about rapamycin for dogs?

  • Optimal dosing:  Is more better, or is there a bell curve to its benefits?
  • Optimal age to start rapamycin therapy in dogs
  • The potential for long term side effects (although it has proven remarkably safe in our use to date,  with only 3-4% of pets showing transient GI symptoms which generally resolve over a few days)

In conclusion, the benefits of rapamycin for dogs include not only its safety, but also its proven actions to extend lifespan and health by reducing cancer, cardiac, and inflammatory risks for dogs.