by Tammi Kaeberlein

You’ve been waiting a painfully long time for this and so have we. Honestly, I might be the least patient of our entire group and so am delighted to say that Phase 2 is truly just around the corner. Phase 2 of the Rapamycin Intervention trial is a yearlong study designed to confirm, as suggested by Phase 1, the positive effects of rapamycin on heart function. We also hope to gain insight on whether rapamycin can improve cognitive function and activity in older dogs. Funding for this phase comes entirely from the Donner Foundation.

We will begin the process of enrolling about 50 dogs this month, January 2018. Dogs that meet eligibility requirements will be asked to come in for an examination. The dogs will undergo health screenings to determine further eligibility for the trial. Dogs must be at least six years old, at least 40 pounds, and without significant pre-existing health conditions. Owners must be willing, able and completely committed to bringing their dog to Texas A&M for 5 visits over a one year period.

Once formally included in the study, dogs will be randomly chosen to receive either rapamycin or a placebo, 3 times a week for 6 months. Neither the dogs, the veterinarians, or the owners will know if they are in the Treatment (Rapamycin) group or the Control (placebo) group, because that is how science is supposed to work. Controlled, randomized and blinded. Owners will be asked to fill out a weekly survey, on a variety of questions regarding health and behavior. In addition, they will periodically bring their dog in for routine examination to the Texas A&M site.

You can register your dog here. If you have already done so, and many of you already have, there is no need to do so again. Seriously, you don’t need to if you have done so at any time in the past unless your contact information has changed. If, and this is essential people, your dog meets all of the criteria for age, weight and geographical location and you do not hear from our veterinary colleagues at Texas A&M by the end of March, please feel free to contact me.

If your dog is not eligible or not chosen for Phase 2, there are still several opportunities to be involved in the Dog Aging Project. The Longitudinal and Phase 3 studies, while still dependent on raising funds, will be nationwide. If you’ve registered with us for any of the previous phases, your dog will be considered for both of these. You can also make a donation to our project, if you are inclined in that direction. A generous and thoughtful way to start the new year, in my very biased opinion.

Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to send them my way.

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