WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - One Purdue veterinarian believes the oldest Rottweilers in thecountry may hold the key to longer life for both dogs andhumans.
Dr. David Waters said the study of aging can only get so farexamining worms, flies and mice.
His pet project is through his work as the executive director ofthe Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation. The Center for ExceptionalLongevity Studies there established the first database tracking theoldest pet dogs in the nation, a project that's been more than adecade in the making.
"We've assembled this database of over 150 of these long-livedRottweilers, equivalent to 100-year-old people," Waters said. "Sothey can be called canine centenarians."
This spring Waters and his team took the study to the next step,visiting the dogs in the study who are still alive. In March heembarked on a 23-day tour to meet and examine the 15 oldest livingRottweilers, all of which were older than 13 years old.
"More and more scientists are becoming interested in what'scalled 'health span,'" he said. "This is healthy longevity, notjust adding more years onto life. And we think dogs can reallybring something to the table in studying health span."
Now the team will enter the results from the "Old Grey MuzzleTour" into the database, save samples of the dogs' DNA for futureresearch and try to see what these dogs can teach us about our ownaging process. So far, Waters says one trend seems to standout.
"In the exceptionally long-lived dogs that I've studied, thething that impresses me the most is their cancer resistance," hesaid. "Of the 15 dogs that I met on the Old Grey Muzzle Tour, 14 ofthe 15 had never had a diagnosis of cancer."
And while that could be a window into the field of cancerresearch, Waters said the scope of this study goes way beyondcancer.
"The Old Grey Muzzle tour has captured the imagination of a lotof folks," he said. "It's a testimony not only to the seriousscience, but also to the unshakable bond between pets andpeople."
In addition to his work at the Cancer Foundation, Waters is aPurdue University professor of Veterinary Medicine and associatedirector of the university's Center on Aging.
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