This week on Lifespan News, Brent Nally discusses the Dog Aging Project along with a drug for cognitive decline in dogs, neural proteins in the bloodstream, a human clinical trial for unexplained anemia of aging, and Alzheimer Europe’s dementia recommendations.
I love dogs, and I especially love my dog, Pearl. Say hi, Pearl. Pearl’s excited that our first two lifespan stories this episode are about dogs. And stay tuned for our other stories in this episode of Lifespan News.
Welcome to Lifespan News on X10, your source for longevity science updates. I’m your host, Brent Nally. If you missed our last episode, then you can watch it by clicking the card above. We encourage you to check the description below for links to these stories.
Continuing with our first story, the Dog Aging Project is ready for takeoff. Lifespan.io recently interviewed Dr. Matt Kaeberlein from the Dog Aging Project, or DAP. DAP is an initiative to study aging in pet dogs, which may hopefully lead to treatments to slow down or reverse aging. DAP scientists think dogs are good models for human aging, given how dogs get similar age-related disease and share our same living environment. DAP was launched a few years back, and recently DAP received quite a bit of attention and funding; DAP is currently preparing to enroll large cohorts of dogs to study the effect of rapamycin on dog lifespan as well as several other health-related endpoints. In his interview, Dr. Matt Kaeberlein shares many more details about DAP as well as what the ongoing pandemic has taught us about aging and geroscience, so be sure to check it out linked in the description below.
For our next story, we have more news about dogs as a drug for dog cognitive decline is approved. Korea’s animal and plant quarantine agency, or APQA, has approved the new drug Gedacure for the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome or cds. Gedacure is the brand name for crisdesalazine. CDS is an age-related progressive neurodegenerative disease with a cognitive and behavioral deficit that is accompanied by beta amyloid precipitation, pathological tau, and neuronal death, making it similar to Alzheimer’s. A Phase 3 trial with dogs with CDS showed that the drug improved their cognitive dysfunction rating. The drug showed considerable effects in 3D culture and animal models of Alzheimer’s disease in reducing neuronal death, tauopathy, and amyloid plaques to some extent which are pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Byoung joo gwag is the ceo and president of gnt pharma which is the company that developed the drug. Gwag said, “Crisdesalazine, the first multi-target drug proven and approved for CDS featuring brain pathology similar to AD, gives hope for better treatment of AD patients. We plan to initiate a pivotal clinical trial of crisdesalazine for patients with mild to moderate AD this year.”
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A new study has measured age with a bloodborne neural protein. A new study shows that functional deterioration of the nervous system contributes to late-life mortality and identifies a related bloodborne biomarker for all-cause mortality. Neurofilament light chain, or NfL, is a structural protein found in nerve cells. NfL levels in blood are known to increase with age and in response to neurodegenerative diseases, making NfL an attractive candidate biomarker. The research team measured nfl in the blood plasma of people aged 21 to 107 and found a non-linear increase and greater variability with age. NfL levels also correlated with changes in 53 proteins, many of which are involved in apoptosis as well as synapse formation and plasticity. The researchers then evaluated NfL as a predictor of mortality. The researchers collected blood from separate cohorts of centenarians which is a person who is one hundred or more years old and nonagenarians which is a person whose age is in the nineties, measured NfL levels, and tracked the cohorts over the next few years or until death. Overall, individuals with lower NfL levels lived longer than those with higher levels and did better on tests of daily living and mental health. Finally, the researchers showed that dietary restriction in mice, which is known to extend lifespan, brings down their NfL levels. While it’s not clear how well these findings will hold in younger populations, NfL seems to be a useful biomarker for age and longevity in older populations, correlating with all-cause mortality and health metrics. More work will be needed to understand how nfl differs from or correlates with other biomarkers of aging and mortality.
Moving on, Bioage launches a clinical trial for unexplained anemia of aging. Bioage is a California-based company that focuses on aging research. Recently, Bioage has announced a Phase 2A clinical trial in elderly patients with unexplained anemia. While not typically thought of as a disease of aging, the incidence of anemia is higher in older people. In young people, causes of anemia are generally straightforward, but not so in elderly patients. In nearly a third of anemic patients over 65, the cause is unknown. Anemia leads to tiredness, dizziness, and weakness due to a low red blood cell count, and therefore poor oxygenation of tissues. Elderly patients suffering from anemia experience reduced mobility, independence, and are more at risk from falls that, in old age, can be really dangerous. Mortality rates of such patients are several times higher than those older people without anemia. Bioage discovered that high activity of a factor known as hypoxia-inducible factor, or HIF, is associated with increased physical and cognitive function as well as extended lifespan. HIF positively affects several cellular processes, and higher amounts of HIF might benefit patients suffering with unexplained anemia of aging, or UUA. Bioage plans to test a drug called BGE-117 on UUA patients. BGE-117 is known to inhibit an enzyme that breaks down HIF, so administering BGE-117 to UUA patients can lead to a dramatic increase in HIF. The trial will focus primarily on the effect of BGE-117 on hemoglobin levels and on patient-reported scores on a questionnaire designed to evaluate the effect of fatigue on daily activities and function. Results of this trial aren’t expected until mid-2022.
For our final story, Alzheimer Europe sets out recommendations to improve data sharing in dementia research. At an online European Union, or EU, parliament workshop, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report, “Data sharing in dementia research”, which reviews recent changes in EU research policy and sets out recommendations to improve data sharing in dementia research. Alzheimer Europe is the umbrella organisation of national European Alzheimer associations. The report evaluates the legal and policy landscape that dementia researchers have had to navigate since the launch of Horizon 2020 in 2013. The key findings are: to date, over 570 million Euros has been invested through Horizon 2020 in dementia research projects. Although open access principles have been widely adopted, the uptake of open data practices varies between sectors and member states. Researchers face technical, financial, and motivational obstacles to data sharing, with the loss of privacy being the most frequently cited concern for research participants. The report recommends: Developing pathways for faster, secure sharing of research data between sectors and across borders, including GDPR codes of conduct and standard contract clauses. Supporting researchers to maintain datasets and platforms after projects end and embedding academic reward systems that place a greater value on data sharing and transparency. Increasing digital literacy in the general population, ensuring that older adults and vulnerable groups are not left behind. Involving people with dementia in the design and conduct of research as well as in data governance.
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