Vaika Inc. received a grant from Morris Animal Foundation for research on the analyses of the “DNA-methylation clock”, one of the areas of research within our company.
What Is the DNA-methylation Clock and Why it Matters?
Each mammalian species has a genetically determined and controlled lifespan. It is, therefore, reasonable to look for the mechanisms of aging in those changes in our DNA that accompany aging.
In fact, DNA in the cells from the tissues of aging humans and animals undergoes
chemical modifications occurring in its specific sites, and it becomes more and more
evident while we age. Techniques named DNA methylation clocks (DMC) have been developed to detect and measure this process of DNA modifications that are equally
applicable to humans and animals, including dogs.
DMC not only serves as a witness to an ongoing aging process,, but it also ticks
faster under aging-accelerated conditions and slower when aging is delayed.
It is essential to study DMC to measure our real age, estimate the efficacy of
antiaging therapies, and, most importantly, predict the onset of age-related diseases for
The Focus of Our Research
In 2018, we initiated a dog aging study with a population of 100 retired sled dogs. Now we plan to determine the DMC scores for all DNA samples collected that include
DNAs from each dog taken at different times of life and to see whether DMC could be
used to predict the remaining lifetime and development of age-related diseases. We will
also see whether DMC could show any difference between dog groups that did and did
not receive antiaging treatments.
Dr. Andrei Gudkov, Principal Investigator on the Morris Animal Foundation grant, Vaika:
“We suspect that the DNA methylation clock reflects biological age rather than
“passport” age and plan to check this assumption by comparing DMC scores in dogs of
similar age that underwent slower or faster aging. We can do it because the Vaika
program includes a comprehensive assessment of the health conditions of all its dogs,
allowing them to range according to how far they are along the aging path. We will also
be able to check if any of the antiaging treatments we apply have an effect on the DMC.
We are grateful to Morris Foundation for the opportunity to run this exciting study.”
Morris Animal Foundation is one of the largest nonprofit animal health research
organizations in the world. It’s focused on funding studies to improve and protect the
health of companion animals and wildlife. Since its establishment in 1948, the
Foundation has invested in studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in animal
disease diagnostics, treatments, and prevention. Learn more
Vaika Inc. is a non-for-profit aimed at understanding and extending the lifespan and
health of domestic dogs. It is led by researchers from Roswell Park Comprehensive
Cancer Center and Cornell University. Learn more at vaika.org