People have been searching for the proverbial Fountain of Youth for years. Their search might have led them to makeup, creams, surgeries and diets to stop the aging process. But a new option is coming on the horizon—young blood.

That proposition sounds like something from a vampire story. However, this new potential treatment involves injecting young blood into an older person, rather than ingesting it like storybook vampires do.

According to KHOU, a local Houston news station, the treatment is available in the Texan city for a clinical trial called Ambrosia (1). The trial features plasma injections from young people given to anyone above 35 years old.

But the treatment doesn’t come cheap. Patients have to be willing to pay $8,000 per treatment, reports KHOU.

Ambrosia’s CEO Jesse Karmazin told CBS New York that people have come from many parts of the world to get the treatment (2).

The doctor is convinced of the treatment’s efficacy. Karmazin told CBC Radio that many patients have felt better even after one treatment (3).

Karmazin also claims the trial has shown improvements in significant diseases like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. The company plans to release its study results later this year, says CBC Radio.

Development for such a treatment has been in the works for several years now. Several studies have been conducted on the efficacy of injecting young blood in mice.

The most renowned studies have been led by Stanford University neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray in 2014 and 2017. According to Scientific American, the first study involved exploring the effects of surgically joining together two mice’s circulatory systems (4).

Researchers found that the old mice improved in activity in the hippocampus region of the brain. This region is known to influence a person’s episodic and spatial memory, or in everyday terms past events and physical navigation. Researchers also saw improvements in learning and memory after plasma injections, reports Scientific American.

Wyss-Coray’s next study then tested injecting mice with human umbilical cord blood. Researchers revealed similar results, an important step for bringing this treatment to humans, Wyss-Coray told Scientific American. The scientists also identified two proteins which appear heavily involved in reversing the brain’s aging process.

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Next came a small human trial meant to assess the treatment’s effects on Alzheimer’s patients. The trial was conducted by Stanford University researchers.

According to the Stanford Medicine website, the results suggested that plasma injections from young people may improve a patient’s ability to perform daily tasks. Those tasks include their ability to remember medications and cook meals.

Although small, the trial was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which is the golden standard for measuring a trial’s validity. Lead researcher Dr. Sharon Sha is encouraged to continue further studies. Sha is a clinical associate professor of neurology at Stanford.

However, both Sha and Wyss-Coray remain reserved about the study’s findings. Getting results in humans is much more difficult than getting results in small animals, Wyss-Coray said on Stanford Medicine.

So should people suffering from aging effects line up at Ambrosia’s streets in Houston? That’s mostly a matter of choice. Dr. Karmazin seems to think the process is effective.

However, other experts like Wyss-Coray and Sha have their reservations—the research hasn’t reached a conclusion yet.

Perhaps the most pressing question is whether or not you have time to wait for the final results.

References:

Homer, M. (2019, January 20). Young blood: Can controversial treatment stop aging in its tracks? KHOU. Retrieved from https://www.khou.com/article/news/local/young-blood-can-controversial-treatment-stop-aging-in-its-tracks/285-39788802-69e6-4702-b376-d44d228597dc.
CBS New York. (2018, October 30). Young Blood: Can A Teen’s Blood Really Stop The Aging Process? Retrieved from https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/10/30/young-blood-teen-blood-aging/.
CBC Radio. (2018, March 2). The vampire molecule: scientists discover why young blood helps reverse aging. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/march-3-2018-detecting-the-first-stars-young-blood-rejuvenation-acoustic-tractor-beam-more-1.4557129/the-vampire-molecule-scientists-discover-why-young-blood-helps-reverse-aging-1.4557132.
Makin, S. (2017, April 21). Fountain of Youth? Young Blood Infusions “Rejuvenate” Old Mice. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fountain-of-youth-young-blood-infusions-ldquo-rejuvenate-rdquo-old-mice/.
Goldman, B. (n.d.). Young blood: Trace of hope for Alzheimer’s patients. Stanford Medicine. Retrieved from https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2018winter/clinical-trial-finds-blood-plasma-from-young-donors-promising-for-Alzheimers.html.