WTF Fun Fact 13663 – Dog Longevity Drug

For dog lovers, the prospect of a dog longevity drug sounds fantastic. Who doesn’t want their furry friends to live longer, healthier lives?

Recent developments from a San Francisco-based biotech company, Loyal, bring this dream closer to reality. They’ve announced an anti-aging drug for dogs that has cleared its first hurdle for FDA approval. This marks a pivotal moment in veterinary medicine, as it’s the first time the FDA has shown openness to endorsing longevity drugs for pets.

Dog Longevity Drug Holds Promise of Longer Lives for Man’s Best Friend

Loyal’s groundbreaking drug, LOY-001, targets a growth and metabolism hormone called IGF-1. This hormone, linked with size, appears in higher levels in larger dogs and lower in smaller ones. Studies on other species suggest inhibiting IGF-1 can increase lifespans. LOY-001 is aimed at healthy dogs over seven years old and weighing more than 40 pounds. Administered every three to six months by a vet, it holds the potential to slow down the aging process in dogs.

Parallel to this, Loyal is developing LOY-003, a daily pill form of the treatment. CEO Celine Halioua emphasizes that they’re not creating immortal dogs. The goal is to slow their rate of aging, thus maintaining a healthier state for a longer period.

As promising as these developments are, they raise significant ethical questions, particularly concerning the quality of extended life for these animals. Veterinarian Kate Creevy, involved in a similar trial for an anti-aging drug called rapamycin, stresses the importance of ensuring that any extended lifespan is accompanied by good health and quality of life.

Moreover, the human manipulation of dogs through selective breeding, which may have contributed to accelerated aging in larger breeds, underlines the ethical complexities in altering canine aging processes.

Trials and the Future of Canine Health

Loyal plans to start a large clinical trial for LOY-001 with around 1,000 large and giant dogs by either 2024 or 2025. The ultimate aim is to have a market-ready product by 2026. This trial not only represents a major step in veterinary medicine but also opens doors to understanding aging in more complex organisms like humans.

The success of Loyal’s drug could potentially revolutionize how we approach canine health and aging. It offers a glimpse into a future where our canine companions can enjoy longer, healthier lives alongside us. However, it’s crucial to balance this scientific advancement with ethical considerations to ensure the well-being of these beloved animals.

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Source: “A New Drug That Could Extend Dogs’ Lives Inches Closer to Approval” — Smithsonian Magazine

WTF Fun Fact 13607 – Arizona Desert Fish

The discovery of Arizona desert fish is making researchers rethink the history of the world!

In a surprising revelation, researchers at the University of Minnesota uncovered an unexpected treasure trove of longevity within the freshwater fishes of the Arizona desert. Their study, recently published in Scientific Reports, highlights three species within the Ictiobus genus, also known as buffalofishes, with lifespans exceeding 100 years.

This groundbreaking discovery not only shifts our understanding of vertebrate aging but also positions these desert dwellers as potentially key players in aging studies across disciplines.

Longevity of Arizona Desert Fish Known as Buffalofishes

The central figures of this study are the bigmouth buffalo, smallmouth buffalo, and black buffalo. Native to Minnesota, these species often fall victim to misidentification, mistakenly grouped with invasive species like carp. Consequently, inadequate fishing regulations fail to protect these potential longevity lighthouses. The collaborative research effort, led by Alec Lackmann, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota Duluth, delved into the lifespans of these species and unraveled their potential in aging research.

Dr. Lackmann’s approach to determining the age of the buffalofishes diverges from traditional scale examination. The team extracted otoliths, or earstones, from the cranium of the fishes. Like the rings on a tree, these otoliths develop a new layer annually. Through meticulous thin-sectioning and examination under a compound microscope, researchers could count these layers, unlocking the true age of the fish.

Remarkable Findings and Implications

The study’s results were nothing short of extraordinary:

  • Unprecedented longevity among freshwater fishes, with three species living over a century.
  • A population in Apache Lake, Arizona, primarily composed of individuals over 85 years old.
  • The likely survival of original buffalofishes from the 1918 Arizona stocking.
  • The development of a catch-and-release fishery, enhancing our understanding of fish longevity and identification.

Interestingly, these centenarian fishes were originally stocked into Roosevelt Lake, Arizona, in 1918. While their counterparts in Roosevelt Lake faced commercial fishing, the Apache Lake population thrived, undisturbed until recent angling activities.

Collaborative Efforts and Future Prospects

The study also highlights a robust collaboration between conservation anglers and scientists, with anglers contributing to scientific outreach and learning. When anglers observed unique markings on the buffalofishes, they reached out to Dr. Lackmann, initiating a partnership that would lead to this study’s pivotal findings.

Looking ahead, Dr. Lackmann envisions a bright future for studying these unique fish. Their exceptional longevity offers a window into their DNA, physiological processes, and disease resistance across a wide age range. The genus Ictiobus could become a cornerstone in gerontological research, with Apache Lake potentially emerging as a scientific hub for diverse research endeavors.

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Source: “Study uncovers hundred-year lifespans for three freshwater fish species in the Arizona desert” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13524 – Lobsters Don’t Age

Lobsters don’t age.

This sea-dwelling crustacean defies the conventional understanding of aging by not showing signs of age-related decline. Here’s why lobsters have intrigued scientists and could potentially reshape our understanding of aging.

Biochemical Wizardry and Lobster Age

The secret behind a lobster’s seemingly eternal youthfulness lies in its biochemistry. Lobsters produce a substance called telomerase. This enzyme plays a role in maintaining the length of telomeres, which are protective caps at the ends of DNA strands.

In most organisms, including humans, telomeres shorten as they age, leading to cellular degeneration and eventually death. Lobsters, however, keep pumping out telomerase throughout their lives, maintaining their telomere length and, consequently, their cellular integrity.

Lobsters Don’t Age – Or Become Less Fertile

Another fascinating feature is that lobsters don’t experience a decline in fertility with age. In many species, reproductive capabilities wane over time. Not so for the lobster. Older females produce even more eggs than their younger counterparts. This aspect has led some researchers to speculate that lobsters may follow a different, if not unique, aging trajectory compared to other animals.

Lobsters continue to grow throughout their lives by molting. This involves shedding their exoskeleton and growing a new one. You might think that this process would become less efficient as the lobster ages, but that’s not the case. Each molt can result in a 14% increase in body size, irrespective of the lobster’s age.

The Age-Energy Paradox

You would assume that continuously growing and molting would require a tremendous amount of energy, and that this might become a constraint as lobsters age. Interestingly, lobsters do not face such limitations. They maintain robust metabolic rates and energy reserves, challenging the notion that energy capacity diminishes with age.

Another marvel lies in the lobster’s immune system. It doesn’t show signs of weakening with age, unlike in humans and other animals. Their robust immune systems add another layer of mystery to their already intriguing biology.

While lobsters don’t weaken with age, they aren’t immortal. Their demise usually comes from external factors like predation or disease. In their natural habitats, they have plenty of predators, including larger lobsters, fish, and even humans. As they grow bigger and older, they also become more susceptible to capture because they make for a more enticing meal.

Lobsters Don’t Age But They Don’t Live Forever

Though their bodies may not betray them, environmental conditions can still impact a lobster’s lifespan. Changes in water temperature, increased pollution, and loss of habitat can affect their longevity. Still, these factors do not trigger the internal mechanisms of decline that aging does in most other organisms.

The study of lobsters has far-reaching implications for understanding aging in other organisms, including humans. Researchers are keen on exploring whether the principles of the lobster’s longevity and resistance to aging can somehow be applied to human medicine. There’s ongoing research into telomerase, and it’s considered a hot topic in anti-aging studies.

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Source: “Are lobsters immortal?” — Natural History Museum

WTF Fun Fact 13331 – The Midlife Slump

Some people tend to feel a sense of existential dread, sadness, or disappointment in life in their 40s or 50s. But this “midlife slump” is perfectly normal. Just don’t confuse it with the caricature of the midlife crisis where everyone runs out and buys red sports cars or has affairs.

Studying the midlife slump

According to research, people in “middle age” often experience a dip in happiness and life satisfaction between the ages of 40 and 50. One study even pinpointed the most miserable age – 47.2. Of course, that’s just an average, so don’t plan for it. The good news is this dip is usually temporary. In fact, after the slump is over, people tend to become happier as they age.

The midlife dip in happiness is caused by a combination of factors. The reality of an aging body, financial pressure, having to take care of both children and elders and the plain old realization that your life is half over (if you’re lucky). It seems to be all downhill from there.

Bouncing back

However, studies also find that people tend to rebound from the midlife slump with gusto. And they become happier as they age. In fact, one study found that people tend to be happiest in their 70s and 80s! Apparently, a sore body is no match for the satisfaction brought by wisdom. With age comes greater contentment and well-being!

So if you’re feeling a bit blue about hitting the big 4-0 or 5-0, take heart in the fact that the midlife slump is a normal part of the aging process. You can even make it a time for self-reflection and growth rather than drowning in your own misery. Some people use this time to make positive changes in their lives. You might start a new career, pursue a lifelong dream, take stock of your priorities, and begin to surround yourself with the people who matter.

Is a midlife crisis different?

The term “midlife crisis” was first coined in 1965 by psychologist Elliot Jaques. He used it to describe a period of self-doubt and reflection. But it only applied to his male patients. It wasn’t until many decades later that people realized women at this age were also struggling – they just deal with it differently and were more likely to seek help.

The classic “midlife crisis” isn’t a given. But it can be triggered by major life events that typically happen in one’s 40s or 50s. This can include the death of loved ones, divorces, job losses, and a general sense of unfulfillment. People find themselves asking “Is this it”? It’s a bit different from the midlife slump, which is a measure of happiness. And happiness is something internal.

Whatever kind of midlife rut you might find yourself in, take heart in the fact that it may be an opportunity for positive change.

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Source: “Your happiness is more likely to hit rock bottom at age 47.2—but there’s an upside, says new research” — CNBC

WTF Fun Facts 13172 – Drinking Water and Aging

We’ve been given a lot of contradictory advice about drinking water over the decades. Drink eight glasses of water. Don’t drink eight glasses of water. Drink only when you’re thirsty. Drink as much water as possible. However, too much water can kill you. Well, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health, it turns out drinking water and aging are related.

The “anti-aging” benefits of drinking water

There’s nothing wrong with aging, of course. We should all be so lucky to be able to do it. But in this case, we’re referring to the diseases and bodily degeneration that accompany age. According to CBS News, the study shows that drinking enough water is “associated with a significantly lower risk of developing chronic diseases, dying early, or being biologically older than your chronological age…”

Study author Natalia Dmitrieva from the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute said in a news release.”The results suggest proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life.”

You might be skeptical about that. But when you look at all of the studies on (clean) water consumption, it’s pretty obvious that it can help deliver some health benefits under the right circumstances.

How was the study performed?

Dmitrieva and her lab gathered an impressive amount of data from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period. They compared the subjects’ serum sodium levels (something that reliably goes up when a person doesn’t drink adequate water to meet their body’s needs) to 15 health indicators. These included things like blood pressure, respiratory and immune functioning, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.

And you can imagine what they found. Adults with high serum sodium levels were more likely to develop chronic diseases. They were also more likely to die younger than those with low serum sodium levels (and therefore, higher water intake).

This helps strengthen the results of a 2022 study that linked poor water intake to heart disease.

How does water affect aging?

Data was gathered from the subjects during five medical visits, two when they were in their 50s and 60s and the last between the age of 70 and 90. They also used relatively healthy subjects who did not already have chronic high serum sodium levels or other factors that could affect results, like obesity. They also adjusted for things like race, sex, and smoking status, since those can affect someone’s overall lifespan.

According to the NIH, they found:

“They found that adults with higher levels of normal serum sodium – with normal ranges falling between 135-146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) – were more likely to show signs of faster biological aging. This was based on indicators like metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function, and inflammation...Adults with serum sodium levels between 138-140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.”

Correlation and causation

Water intake, health, and aging are correlated in these studies. There appears to be a relationship between them. But you know what they say – correlation does not equal causation. That means there can be other factors involved, and that water intake does not immediately affect any of these disease or aging outcomes.

Of course, maybe water intake is the key. But that’s not something the study can prove. For that, we’ll need a lot more evidence and research into how our bodies develop or stave off specific diseases.

But in the meantime, this information can help guide our choices. Since more than half of adults in the U.S. don’t drink enough water, maybe it’s time to incorporate more into your day.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Drinking lots of water can help reduce the effects of aging” — CBS News

WTF Fun Fact 12809 – The Japanese Silver Sake Cup

It’s long been a tradition in Japan to send centenarians a sterling silver sake cup to celebrate their big 3-digit birthday, along with a congratulatory letter. But the Japanese silver sake cup has been downgraded because so many people in Japan live to be 100 or older.

Paying respects with a silver sake cup

The sterling silver cup has been a tradition for over 50 years (since 1963, to be exact), but in 2015, the government was forced to change it up a bit.

Handing out that much sterling silver was getting far too expensive – to the tune of millions of dollars. Since 2015,

Now, the celebratory sakazuki is made of silver plated nickel. This halved the cost of the gifts.

An aging population

According to a 2015 article in The Guardian (cited below):

“In 1963 Japan had just 153 centenarians, and as recently as 1998 the number stood at just 10,000. At the last count Japan’s 100-plus age group numbered almost 59,000, and that figure is expected to rise when the government releases new population data before Seniors’ Day on 15 September.

Last year the ministry spent 260 million yen (£1.3m) on giving the cups – each worth about 8,000 yen – to almost 30,000 people, including 25,000 women. Local media pointed out that some people die before the gifts can be distributed, forcing them to be scrapped.”

Japanese women live the longest of any other population (an average of 86.3 years).

Around quarter of Japan’s population is 65 or older, and that population is expected to reach 40% by 2050. The country citizens have not had enough children to replace their current population since the 1970s.

The country houses roughly 80,000 centenarians! So now we’re wondering if the secret is drinking a lot of sake!

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Source: “Japan considers cheaper congratulatory cups for soaring number of centenarians” — The Guardian