Cornell University lays groundwork for landmark study on canine aging

Cornell University has launched a new network of researchers to study how dogs age. The network of collaborators, dubbed the Canine Longevity Consortium, will use dogs as “a new model system that researchers can study to find how genetic and environmental factors influence aging and what interventions might mitigate age-related diseases,” according to a university press release

Unlike any other model system for aging, dogs share our environment and, increasingly, our healthcare options,” said Adam Boyko, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Once developed, a canine model holds enormous promise and we expect it to have a significant impact on aging research.”

The new network will lay the groundwork for a nationwide Canine Longitudinal Aging Study (CLAS), the university said.

Previous research into aging has not translated as well to humans because it has been based mostly on yeast, worms, flies, and mice. Through studying dogs, researchers should be able to gather valuable data on genetic and environmental factors affecting aging in dogs. The data can potentially be used to increase understanding of how we age and discover ways to treat age-related illnesses.

The consortium will start with pilot projects to choose the best breeds for the study and to determine how best to collect, analyze, and share the large-scale data it will produce, according to Cornell. The team will conduct an epidemiological analysis of genetic and environmental factors influencing canine lifespan, high-resolution mapping of canine longevity, and a year-long epidemiological analysis of age and cause of death in all dogs seen within a select group of three private veterinary clinics.

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