An Update from Ambrosia on their Paid Plasma Transfusion Study

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.



The HBO comedy series Silicon Valley recently had an episode involving parabiosis. The episode was called "Blood Boy". It got me thinking about the process and legality of paying for young blood/plasma. In the episode they directly linked the donor and the recipient, and transferred whole blood. I am guessing that in the study the plasma was extracted using a plasmapheresis machine, then tested for STDs (and whatever else blood/plasma donation centers tests for) and then IV transfused into the recipient a few days later.

As I see it, there are two ways an older individual with a few bucks, but not a billionaire, could incorporate this process into his life. 1. Buy a plasmapheresis machine, find a few "donors" (obviously they would have to be paid, and as I understand it, plasma donations every 4 weeks are considered safe), send samples out for Testing, do the transfusions yourself. 2. Contract with a facility that would screen the donors and do the plasmapheresis, testing and transfusions.

Not really technically complicated. Absent the legal obstacles this could probably be done for $250/unit transfusion. But what are the legal obstacles? I bet the AMA and the FDA would fight this with everything they have. Possibly this would be best accomplished in a border town like Tiajuana.

Posted by: JohnD at June 2nd, 2017 10:52 PM

I can only comment on the situation in Australia: it is totally forbidden in any way, shape or form! The "lawmakers" have seen to that.
No doctor will transfuse plasma into a "healthy recipient". You cannot buy plasma. You cannot even buy your own plasmapheresis machine...the Red Cross has been given a monopoly on the collection of blood. Even the old machines from the Red Cross are taken back by the supplier when new models are purchased.
I think I'll move to the USA...

Posted by: Tom at June 3rd, 2017 12:06 PM

"Those complaining the loudest should put in the work to raise funds and run a study they way they would prefer to."

This goes for a lot of science... lots of armchair experimentalists with the funds to answer some fundamental questions, but it's more fun, apparently, and certainly less expensive, to complain.

WRT the value of dilution vs. addition of factors, I tend to agree although it will likely be a combination for optimal tissue maintenance.

I've been thinking recently that the chronic inflammation that increases with age is actually an attempt to "heal" in response to DAMPs and other damage motifs which accumulate very slowly over time as SENS predicts. These signals to heal produced by senescent cells and the activated immune cells, are stimulating stem cells continuously. I have to imagine that as with many other biological "activation" programs, there is negative-feedback to attentuate it which makes the "receiver" less sensitive to stimulation such as sugar in the blood does in type II diabetes with insulin production. It wouldn't be a surprise at all to me to find that tissue-resident stem cells responsible for maintenance become "resistant" to increasing growth signals as we age, slowing down proliferation, and as a result tissues degenerate. This would be useful to us because it then implies that the major deficit in tissue repair is not intrinsic to the stem cell, relieving the inhibition from the environment may go a long way to restoring normal stem cell function and tissue homeostasis.

We should be able to answer these basic questions soon and what role old blood and young blood can play in restoring age-related loss of function.

Posted by: Kevin M Perrott at June 4th, 2017 2:37 PM

(For those who don't recognize the name, Kevin was an early sign-up for Dr. de Grey's campaign to end aging, is a cofounder of SENS Research Foundation, and has spent the last several years in Dr. Campisi's lab at the Buck Institute doing senescence research).

Posted by: Michael at June 4th, 2017 5:47 PM

Also the first person in The 300 by the looks of it.

Posted by: Jim at June 4th, 2017 7:33 PM

So lets get Irina Conboy funded and find out for sure. The evidence strongly suggests dilution and some more tests will hopefully nail this down further.

Posted by: Steve Hill at June 5th, 2017 5:11 AM

How do i buy stock in Ambrosia

Posted by: Will at November 23rd, 2017 6:21 PM

Anyone who wants to get an infusion of young plasma and believes (correctly, in my view) that dilution of one's own plasma is part of what would be beneficial can easily increase the benefits of the young plasma infusions by donating plasma right before receiving the infusion of the young plasma. That's what I did. If you don't own a plasmapheresis machine (and why would you?), you'd have to register to become a plasma donor, and be accepted. It's a pretty easy process.

Posted by: Brian M. Delaney at July 30th, 2018 9:13 AM

Game over ???

Posted by: Tommy at February 20th, 2019 12:38 PM
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