The Prospects for Therapies Based on Heterochronic Plasma Exchange

Heterochronic parabiosis is the process of linking together the circulatory systems of an old and a young individual. This is done in mice to try to isolate the roles of various signaling proteins in age-related alterations to metabolism, stem cell activity, and so forth. The older mice tend to show improvements in various short-term measures that otherwise decline with age.

While the full details of what is going on under the hood are not yet understood, why not trial a human therapy based on regular blood transplants from a young donor to an old recipient? This would be a stopgap on the way to figuring out the laundry list of signals that need to be altered and then altering them directly - which is in turn a stopgap on the way to repairing the underlying damage of aging that causes these signaling and metabolic changes, as well as many other forms of harm.

My guess is that in the present regulatory environment such a therapy would be unlikely to emerge. There is a very strong bias against progressing without a full explanation of the underlying molecular biology these days - therapies of the past are grandfathered in, but would never be admitted to clinical trials in today's risk averse world. As and when a comprehensive explanation emerges, researchers will focus on direct manipulation of the signals in question rather than developing a blood transfusion methodology to carry them over.

The population of baby boomers (age 60-65) is rapidly increasing globally. The aging of the human body is associated with the decline of cellular function which leads to the development of a variety of diseases. The increased demand for health care for the aging population creates significant financial burden to any healthcare system. Developing strategies and health intervention methods to ameliorate this situation is paramount.

Experiments utilizing heterochronic parabiosis in mice have demonstrated that replacing the aging cellular milieu with the plasma of a young experimental animal leads to reversal of cellular senescence. This article describes a hypothetical model of intermittent heterochronic plasma exchange in humans as a modality for heterochronic parabiosis in an attempt to delay cellular senescence.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jca.21286

Comments

The Life Extension Foundation isn't troubled by little details like "legality" or "ethics" when it comes to saving lives. Get them to try it in one of their offshore research labs.

You could probably find some people at Longecity that would be up for it too.

Maybe write a proposal on Open Cures.

Posted by: Carl at September 26th, 2013 10:10 AM

this is a potential therapy that has interested me for a while. I doubt it will ever be available in the US as it would get slammed from all sides, the left would declare it elitest and racist, the religious right would demonize it in general, and the safety zealots would pontificate on the possibilty of spreading disease.

Posted by: JohnD at September 26th, 2013 3:43 PM

Well, we have done it on mice. No effect on lifespan :)

Posted by: Dmitri at March 12th, 2014 11:24 AM

I recently showed that young blood is healthier to receive than older blood from transfusions given over the last two years at Stanford, which I believe is the first heterochronic parabiosis experiment in people.

Posted by: Jesse at March 25th, 2014 8:55 PM

trial underway for plasma transfusions for alzheimers

Posted by: george at August 22nd, 2015 9:16 PM

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