Only 4 years after its founding, San Francisco-based biotech company Loyal has announced its anti-aging drug for large and giant breed dogs (LOY-001) has cleared a major hurdle towards FDA conditional approval.
As most dog owners are aware, large dog breeds tend to have shorter lifespans than small dog breeds, sometimes by as much as half. One company aims to provide drugs that could extend both the lifespan (number of years lived) and healthspan (number of healthy/quality years lived) for dogs.
This company currently has three drug products in development—the first being LOY-001, an injectable that targets high levels of IGF-1 observed in large dogs, to be administered by a veterinarian every 3 or 6 months. LOY-003 targets the same pathway, but would be designed as a daily pill. Anticipated FDA approval of these two drugs is 2026.
But isn’t IGF-1 needed for regular growth and development? The short answer is yes. However, a 2022 meta-analysis looked at the levels of IGF-1 in more than 30,000 human subjects and concluded that both high and low IGF-1 are associated with increase in all-cause mortality. The review suggests that modulating IGF-1 levels—finding that sweet spot—could be the key to extending lifespan. The folks at Loyal also suggest that thousands of years of selective breeding has created genetic issues not unlike the 28-fold disparity of IGF-1 seen in large versus small dog breeds, and the high IGF-1 levels in large and giant breed dogs are an abnormal consequence of that breeding. The drugs under investigation would be given to healthy dogs over the age of seven.
LOY-002, on the other hand, is being developed for most dog breeds and sizes, at least those over 14 pounds, and while the mechanism of action differs from the two other drugs, it is unclear. According to the developer, it targets a pathway that is “thought to improve metabolic fitness, which would extend the number of healthy years your dog lives”. Perhaps as this drug passes more pre‑approval milestones, we will see more scientific literature on its use. Planned approval is 2025.