You might recall that Ambrosia was founded to obtain human data on blood plasma transfusions between young and old individuals. There has been the standard grumbling about their efforts being a paid trial without controls, but if one is only concerned with the identification or ruling out of large and reliable effects, that gets the job done. When the necessary millions of dollars for formal studies cannot be found, as is often the case, then patient paid studies are a way to make some progress. If compelling enough results are produced, than it will be much easier to fund more rigorous efforts to quantify outcomes.
This recent commentary suggests that none of the results so far are either large enough or extensive enough to definitively be something other than the placebo effect, chance, or other items such as a patient making lifestyle changes. I think there is some skepticism regarding the potential effectiveness of transfusions of young blood in any case; the data is somewhat mixed, and underlying theory on what is going on still in flux. Recent research suggests that the effects observed in parabiosis studies of mice with joined circulatory systems are due to a dilution of harmful factors in old blood rather than a delivery of helpful factors from young blood, for example. If the case, that would mean that transfusions should produce very limited results at best. Still, obtaining data is the important thing, and that is what is being done here. Those complaining the loudest should put in the work to raise funds and run a study they way they would prefer to.
Older people who received transfusions of young blood plasma have shown improvements in biomarkers related to cancer, Alzheimer's disease and heart disease. Since August 2016, Ambrosia has been transfusing people aged 35 and older with plasma - the liquid component of blood - taken from people aged between 16 and 25. So far, 70 people have been treated, all of whom paid Ambrosia to be included in the study. The first results come from blood tests conducted before and a month after plasma treatment, and imply young blood transfusions may reduce the risk of several major diseases associated with ageing.
None of the people in the study had cancer at the time of treatment, however the Ambrosia team looked at the levels of certain proteins called carcinoembryonic antigens. These chemicals are found in the blood of healthy people at low concentrations, but in larger amounts these antigens can be a sign of having cancer. The team detected that the levels of carcinoembryonic antigens fell by around 20 per cent in the blood of people who received the treatment. However, there was no control group or placebo treatment in the study, and it isn't clear whether a 20 per cent reduction in these proteins is likely to affect someone's chances of developing cancer.
The team also saw a 10 per cent fall in blood cholesterol levels. "That was a surprise." This may help explain why a study by a different company last year found that heart health improved in old mice that were given blood from human teenagers. They also report a 20 per cent fall in the level of amyloids - a type of protein that forms sticky plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. One participant, a 55-year-old man with early onset Alzheimer's, began to show improvements after one plasma treatment, and his doctors decided he could be allowed to drive a car again. An older woman with more advanced Alzheimer's is reportedly showing slow improvements, but her results have not been as dramatic.