In 2005, a study showed that when young and old mice shared circulatory systems, tissues in the older mice were rejuvenated. Since then, scientists and entrepreneurs alike have become interested in the potential anti-ageing properties of young blood. Specifically, research has been aimed at identifying the components of the plasma – the non-cellular fraction of the blood – that change with age.
Some headway has been made in this regard. In August, a biotech company called Alkahest reported that their infusion, which contained 500 plasma proteins, appeared to arrest the mental decline of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease sufferers. Clinical trials are still ongoing. Another startup, Elevian, is working towards launching its first clinical trial of GDF11, a plasma protein that previous studies have shown to have regenerative properties, though evidence remains conflicting.
The ultimate goal of research is to identify the precise proteins that impact the ageing process so that they can be synthesised, removing the need for plasma itself, the supply of which is limited. While there have been some promising findings, these treatments are still under development and are not ready to be made widely available. This has not stopped Ambrosia, a US startup, from offering whole plasma infusions as an anti ageing treatment. The FDA has issued a warning that such treatments, in addition to having no published evidence to back them up, could also pose a risk to the recipients.
If research continues to yield promising results, we could hope to see plasma fraction treatments made available within the decade.
More information can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/02/could-young-blood-stop-us-getting-old-transfusions-experiments-mice-plasma
Could ‘young’ blood stop us getting old? https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/02/could-young-blood-stop-us-getting-old-transfusions-experiments-mice-plasma
Rejuvenation of aged progenitor cells by exposure to a young systemic environment: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03260
Vascular and neurogenic rejuvenation of the aging mouse brain by young systemic factors: DOI: 10.1126/science.1251141
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