PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Is there a way to help your dog or cat live longer? And not just longer, but also with a better quality of life?

A local scientist thinks he may know a way and he’s asking for your help.

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Jonathan Jarvik, Ph.D., is a biochemist at Carnegie Mellon University who also started a company called SpectraGenetics on the South Side.

What he wants to study is based on a discovery made last year by some researchers at Harvard.

They found that when blood from younger mice is given to older mice, the older mice change.

“The mouse becomes more motivated,” said Jarvik. “It thinks better. It solves problems better with regard to mazes and things like this, and it gets stronger. And its heart gets stronger.”

Turns out, the reason is a protein in the blood called GDF11, which brings us back to Jarvik’s idea.

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“We’re a group of scientists with a project that could extend the lives and improve the health of our pets,” is what the narrator of a video on Jarvik’s crowdfunding page says.

He and others are hoping to raise $95,000 by Sunday, so they can test thousands of compounds and off-patent drugs to see which ones might give GDF11 a boost.

You can find his page here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/can-science-help-pets-live-longer

“Nobody is suggesting that it’s eternal life or something like that,” said Jarvik.

However, he does believe the right boosters could mean our pets live longer and get less frail. A fountain of youth of sorts if they find the right combination.

The video on his crowdfunding page says, “We will release our results to the public for companion animals with no strings attached.”

GDF11 is also found in people, and Jarvik says pharmaceutical companies are already studying how to take advantage of what’s been discovered.

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David Highfield