The fountain of youth may only be a myth, but a drug called l-deprenyl might make a believer of many pet owners..Deprenyl Animal Health Inc. (NASDAQ:DAHI) has found that injectedl-deprenyl can extend the life span of laboratory rats by 25 percentand retard specific degenerative bodily processes normallyassociated with aging, including decreasing ability to learn, loss ofmuscle tissue and declining reproductive performance..Independent tests conducted on dogs at the University of Torontohave confirmed that the drug retards aging symptoms, according toDavid Stevens, president of DAHI. The Kansas City company is aspinoff of Deprenyl Research Ltd. (DRL) of Toronto.."We're not viewing these results as an increase in life span,"Stevens told BioWorld. "Rather, we consider this to be a slowdown inthe predictable degeneration associated with age, an increase inhealth span, if you will.".L-deprenyl is produced and supplied to DAHI by the Hungariancompany Chinoin Pharmaceutical and Chemical Works Co. Ltd., whichholds U.S. and Canadian process patents for the drug. SomersetPharmaceuticals Inc. is Chinoin's licensee for human applications inthe United States, where the drug has orphan drug status as anadjunctive therapy in humans for the treatment of late-stageParkinson's disease,.L-deprenyl functions by blocking the production of monoamineoxidase-type B. MAO-B degrades the vigor-maintaining centralnervous system regulators, including the chemical dopamine.."Since the Parkinson's disease therapy tests were done on dogs,we've had a head start on animal product trials," said Stevens, whohopes to have a product to market in two to three years. "The onlyremaining tests required for FDA pre-marketing approval are theminimal efficacy trials, where we determine the correct dosage.".The company is uncertain about the size of the market, Stevens said,but "our market research shows that at least 10 percent of the 55million U.S. dog owners would be interested in this product.".He said the company is also investigating l-deprenyl's beneficialeffects on cats and horses. However, Stevens said no research onhumans is currently planned, though DAHI has applied for worldwidepatents on all future human uses of the drug..Stevens acknowledges that large pharmaceutical companies such asEli Lilly & Co. and Hoffmann La Roche have investigated developing l-deprenyl as a treatment for brain disorders, including Lou Gehrig'sand Alzheimer's diseases. But so far, he said, no other company iscurrently developing an animal product similar to DAHI..The company has applied for a U.S. patent for application of l-deprenyl in mammals..Deprenyl Animal Health Inc. is owned primarily by DRL, which owns41 percent of DAHI stock. Twenty percent of DAHI stock is owned bya group of 10 Canadian investors, including Dr. Morton Shulman, co-chairman of the board of DRL and chairman and chief executiveofficer of DAHI. Smaller investors hold an additional 10 percent.

-- Jeff Hutkoff Special to BioWorld

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