Rejuvant founder in talks with US pet food manufacturers as company seeks to bring the benefits of alpha ketoglutarate to companion animals.
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Human longevity supplement developer Rejuvant is preparing to move into clinical studies in dogs, as the company eyes the pet longevity market. Rejuvant’s CEO says the company is in advanced talks with a specialty pet food manufacturer about potentially including the company’s patent-pending longevity ingredient, LifeAKG, in pet food products.
Longevity.Technology: That Rejuvant is now looking to expand its successful human supplement business into the world of pet longevity is an interesting move, with companies like Loyal demonstrating that extending the healthspan and lifespan of our animal companions is a cause worth pursuing. We caught up with Rejuvant founder and CEO Thomas Weldon to learn more.
The molecule calcium alpha-ketoglutarate (CaAKG) lies at the core of all Rejuvant’s supplements. Studies have shown CaAKG may be effective in treating osteoporosis, preventing a decline in protein synthesis, reducing frailty, and even compressing morbidity. Last year, a randomized retrospective study of 42 individuals showed the supplement reduced biological age by an average of eight years after taking the dietary supplement for seven months.
Why pet longevity?
The decision to start looking at companion animals at this stage in proceedings is, says Weldon, largely driven by consumer interest.
“We’ve got customers who have been taking Rejuvant for a while and have noticed the benefits in themselves and wanted to know if they could give it to their dogs,” he says. “So, we started out by doing some initial testing with a consultancy in the US and Canada, and we’re now ready to start scaling the studies up.”
From Weldon’s perspective, the key question is to understand the dose required for different size animals. In addition to dogs, he envisages supplements for cats and potentially even smaller animals.
“We’ll probably look at cats as well, but the market for dogs is larger and we already have a potential partner interested in distributing a product for dogs, so that’s where we’re starting,” he says. “My guess is we will have separate products for dogs and cats. But first we need to test them, as we did in humans. If it works, great, if it doesn’t, then we’ll consider changing the dose or the delivery format. The metabolism in dogs is quite a bit more rapid than in humans, so we’ve developed a specific prototype that has a smaller dose, and a different time-release profile, with added flavoring to ensure they eat it!”
Potential dog food partnership
The potential partner that Weldon is referring to is a “specialty” US dog food company that is looking for ways to improve animal health.
“We have been approached by other large companies with pet food businesses and they’re interested, but we think there’s a better opportunity with a boutique company, who have already made their mark by doing something different, and they’ve been very successful at it,” he says. “Strategically, we don’t want to be an ingredient company, but if our brand is used in a joint development, which is what we are currently in discussions about, then we are certainly interested.”
“We’ve been approached by similar companies in different parts of the world – some are much more aggressive about wanting to get a product to market than others. In Southeast Asia, for example, there is a huge appetite for it, so that may well be where we go first.”
The first step in the potential US partnership is to conduct a proper trial in dogs.
“We’re going to do a study with them on 10 or 20 dogs, primarily for safety, although we’re highly confident that the product is not problematic in that regard, because AKG is also endogenous in animals,” says Weldon.
Biological age testing in dogs
The trial design has not been finalized at this point, but Weldon says that the study will likely use epigenetic testing to establish whether the supplement is having the desired effect in dogs.
“We will probably take a similar approach to the testing we’ve been doing in humans,” he says. “We believe aging is caused by epigenetic corruption, and that the best way to measure biological age is to measure changes in the epigenome. That’s our approach in humans, and we plan on taking that approach in animals as well.”
“It’s important to establish a baseline for a study like this, and Dr Steve Horvath has developed a DNA methylation test for dogs. We don’t yet know what the right timeframe is to see if we’re moving the needle or not, but I suspect probably three or four months should be enough. If we can show a reduction in biological age over that period, then that is probably good news.”
The study will also seek to establish the correct dosing levels, relative to the weight of the animals and their metabolic rate.
“If the metabolic rate is high, like it is in dogs, then we probably would want a time-release product, but maybe not,” says Weldon. “Our initial work has looked at medium sized dogs, and my guess is that smaller dogs and cats would require a smaller dose, because the metabolic rate is different.”
Assuming all goes to plan, Weldon says that Rejuvant could have its first pet longevity supplement product ready for the US market as early as next year.
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