Life-extension advocates could be one step closer to the ‘biological fountain of youth’ – a treatment in which the blood of the young and healthy is used to reverse the effects of aging.
In a series of new trials, researchers have found that injecting the blood plasma of 18-year-old humans into old mice rejuvenates both the body and brain, improving cognition and allowing them to frolic about like their younger counterparts.
According to Alkahest, the company behind the experiments, blood plasma may hold the secrets to youth, and a similar technique could one day be used in procedures for humans.
The findings were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego, California.
The firm, whose mission ‘is to enrich the health and vitality of humankind through transformative therapies that counterbalance the aging process,’ injected 12-month-old mice with blood samples from 18-year-old humans twice a week for three weeks.
At 12-months, mice have entered a stage roughly equivalent to that of a 50-year-old person, moving more slowly and performing badly on memory tests.
But, after three weeks, the researchers noted improvements in the mice’s performance on a range of tests.
Following the injections, the older mice were better at remembering their way around a maze – and, they ran around an open space like the younger group.
The results were compared to young, 3-month-old mice, and older mice who had not been given the treatment.
The researchers also examined the brains of the treated mice, and found that they appeared to have created new cells in the hippocampus.
This process, known as neurogenesis, is thought to contribute to memory and learning, and the results now show that it can be enhanced through the injection of young human blood, New Scientist reports.
According to Sakura Minami, of Alkahest, some of the factors that give young blood its power have now been identified – but, the team will not reveal them yet.
The researchers say these findings could one day help them to develop anti-aging treatments, and could even help people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Human trails have already begun to test this hypothesis.
In recent years, the bizarre practice has caught the attention of many life-extension enthusiasts – including billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel, who said he is looking into 'parabiosis.'
Early studies have shown that the transfusion of blood plasma from a young donor can have age-reversing effects on the body, and it's recently begun clinical trials on humans.
Human trials were launched recently by a company called Ambrosia, with participants paying $8,000 to get involved, according to Inc.
In the study, ‘Young Donor Plasma Transfusion and Age-Related Biomarkers,’ healthy individuals aged 35 or older receive a transfusion of blood plasma from donors younger than 25.
And, the firm has been contacted by Thiel Capital’s chief medical officer, Jason Camm, Inc. reports, who expressed interest in the work.
In an interview last year with Jeff Bercovici, Peter Thiel explained his interest in life-extension medicine.
Moving on from a discussion on caloric restriction, human growth hormone, and diabetes drug metformin, the investor said he isn’t yet convinced that scientists have found the cure-all technique.
But, he’s turned his sights to some ‘strangely underexplored’ fields.
‘I’m looking into parabiosis stuff, which I think is really interesting,’ Thiel told Bercovici.
‘This is where they did the young blood into older mice and they found that had a massive rejuvenating effect.’
Thiel went on to clarify that the procedure was of interest as a personal-health treatment, and said it would not require FDA approval.
Still, the investor remarked then that he hadn’t ‘quite, quite, quite started yet’ in moving forward with parabiosis, and according to Inc., this is still the case.
Scientists first experimented with parabiosis in the 1950s, and in recent years, it’s begun to gain attention once again.
In the organ systems of both animals and humans, the procedure has been found to reverse the symptoms of aging, though scientists don’t yet understand all of the mechanisms at work.
Jesse Karmazin, founder of Ambrosia, explains to Inc. that the blood of a young organism is rich with proteins that improve cell function, and can spur the production of these proteins in the recipient’s body.
And, the researcher says this effect appears to be ‘almost permanent.’