Human Trials of Young Blood Transfused into Old Individuals

Studies of parabiosis, in which a young and an old mouse have their blood systems joined, show that altering the balance of circulating proteins in old tissue can restore stem cells to action and revert a range of measures that change with age. It is thought that frequent blood transfusions should capture at least some of this outcome, although it is unclear as to the degree to which the relevant proteins are short-lived in circulation, and transfusions are really just a stand-in for some yet to be established but more effective way of directly altering levels of the proteins of interest.

Stem cells decline and protein levels change as a reaction to rising levels of cellular damage, or at least that is the dominant view of aging as a process in the research community. In the case of stem cells this may be an evolved mechanism to suppress cancer risk, a balance between death by failing tissue maintenance versus death due to damaged cells running amok. Thus there is some concern that crude changes intended to bring stem cells back into a youthful mode of activity will produce high rates of cancer, but it is entirely possible that this can be avoided while still retaining benefits. First generation stem cell treatments came attached to much the same concern, and where that concern was professionally addressed these therapies are clearly producing meaningful benefits in older people.

In both mice and humans, GDF11 falls with age. We don't know why it declines, but we know it is involved in several mechanisms that control growth. It is also thought to mediate some age-related effects on the brain, in part by activation of another protein that is involved in neuronal growth and long-term memory. So the billion-dollar question is: would a GDF11 boost have the same effect in humans? [Researchers think] it will, having taken the next step of injecting young human blood plasma into old mice. His preliminary results suggest that human blood has similar rejuvenating benefits for old mice as young mouse blood does. "We saw these astounding effects. The human blood had beneficial effects on every organ we've studied so far."

Now, the final step - giving young human blood plasma to older people with a medical condition - is about to begin. Getting approval to perform the experiment in humans has been relatively simple, thanks to the long safety record of blood transfusions. So in early October, a [team] will give a transfusion of blood plasma donated by people under 30 to older volunteers with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. Following the impressive results in animal experiments, the team hopes to see immediate improvements in cognition, [but] cautions that it is still very experimental. "We will assess cognitive function immediately before and for several days after the transfusion, as well as tracking each person for a few months to see if any of their family or carers report any positive effects. The effects might be transient, but even if it's just for a day it is a proof of concept that is worth pursuing."

All researchers involved in the work agree that GDF11 is unlikely to be the only factor that keeps organs youthful. "It's too optimistic to think there would be just one factor. It's much more likely to be several factors that exert these effects in combination."



About bloody time. This is such an OBVIOUS thing to try that it totally amazes me that nobody has done it yet!

Posted by: Carl at August 21st, 2014 12:27 AM

Nice pun Carl and yes, at last! I've been tempted to connect up my kids and trade them pocket money for their blood (yes, I'm kidding).

Posted by: Wayne at August 21st, 2014 1:50 AM

Doing it with people who already have Alzheimer's runs the risk that no benefits will be produced. The cascade of damage has already gone very far. Lets hope they try it with healthy elderly and asses what happens.

Posted by: cosmicalstorm at August 21st, 2014 3:13 AM

Yes about time! I've been recommending this for centuries!

Posted by: Count D. at August 21st, 2014 5:46 AM

Hopefully scientists will be able to produce a synthetic version of young blood plasma, as i imagine there will be objections to current supplies being used as an anti-aging treatment when it is needed for emergency transfusions.

Posted by: Link at August 21st, 2014 6:26 PM

This is good news and hopefully will turn out in reversing couple aspects of aging. Then hopefully rejuvenation will gain more moment and larger entities will invest in this and things will speed up.

@ Link - yes, that is one thing that I thought too: if this will work, there is a need for an artificial/synthetic identical (better?) component, that can be recirculated without touching the sensitive existing situation.

Let's hope things are moving in the right direction and soon we'll see good results.

Can't they start a post?

Posted by: alc at August 22nd, 2014 6:31 AM

You *know* they must be paying the "under 30" volunteers for their blood, right? If this works to a significant degree, you could possibly have a market here...and where there's a Market and Proof, you have Interest, and a Movement...


Posted by: Eugene at August 23rd, 2014 7:10 AM

It would be bizarrely entertaining if a marketplace was indeed created for young blood to the older. I have always thought this possible when donating blood.

Posted by: Cosmicalstorm at August 23rd, 2014 11:46 PM

A market for young blood? I doubt money motivatation is going to make this a reality. As the general population realizes the benefit, blood banks will be collecting and storing blood from young people to be used when (they) are older. Keep in mind you don't want adulterated blood. I would agree blood from a virgin with pure blood is the ideal source. It would also be a clear reason to stay pure.

Posted by: Richard Shelton at June 17th, 2015 11:56 AM

Actually I believe it is true, as I can see from my bypass patients (>60 yo) who lost a lot of blood (thus more blood transfused) have better outcomes comparing to those did not lose much blood.

Posted by: Elaine at January 17th, 2016 12:13 AM

Yup. And yes, I'm hot to trot on this one. Naturally. So guesstimate tells me that a half-pint per month, intravenously, divided into a dose every other day...for three months... should show some effect.

Just need to gain some resources here, and do some figuring. The 'March of the vampires' has probably begun.

Posted by: Leslie Piper at December 28th, 2016 4:39 PM
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