Young blood transfusions became a widely spoken topic when the Silicon Valley millionaire, Peter Thiel was fascinated by the concept of prolonging life by transfusing younger humans’ blood and paid a lot to transfuse young adult’s blood. Even though this was criticized and made fun of at first, scientific eyes focused on this concept and many research started to take place.
Based on this emerging news, many clinical studies were done. In a clinical study done at the University of California, Berkeley, young and old mice were transfused with a 50-50 mixture of their blood. The results surprised the scientists as it proved Peter Thiel’s fascination to be true. Older mice infused with younger mice blood showed much rapid muscle repair and younger mice transfused with older mice blood showed worsened cell formation in the brain.
The new information coming to light has opened up multiple doors to the healthcare and anti-aging treatment. Based on this animal trials, human trials have been started in China, South Korea, and America where volunteers are injected blood from donors within the ages of sixteen and twenty-five years.
Young blood transfusions have a long history. It was practiced from the seventeenth century where young blood was consumed to heal sickness and prolong life. Since nothing was known about blood groups and safe blood transfusion, attempted blood transfusions in that era was almost always unsuccessful due to wrong blood grouping. In the early twentieth century, physicians started to notice that old patients given young blood transfusions began to look more youthful and have higher energy levels.
Not just that, young blood transfusions in animal studies have increased cognitive and brain functions. A study done at Stanford University led by neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray in 2014, showed that young mice blood reversed the cognitive and neurological impairment seen in old mice. In this study, a technique called “Parabiosis” was used in which the two mice were sutured together so that they shared a single circulatory system. This has led the old mice to change their genetic activity in the brain region known as the hippocampus and increased neural plasticity (formation of neural connections). This has been the mechanism of learning and memory associated with the formation of new neural connections with deeper brain regions.
This has been a hallmark finding as with further research evidence young blood transfusion would be able to reduce the risk of elderly developing cognitive impairment and memory related disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s has become one of the most significant health challenges in the world that occurs as people age. The hippocampus is one of the brain regions vital for the episodic memories (recall) and spatial memories (physical navigation). This area is affected by Alzheimer’s, and the findings of this study have great hopes for the future.
Taking this study further, the mice injected with young human blood plasma, and young adult blood plasma has shown the similar results. Doctor Tony has stated that since human blood plasma has the same factors, similar results can be expected when repeated in humans.
Though many studies are still going on and many research is yet to be done. This is a groundbreaking discovery with many possibilities for the geriatric society. It may even be one step closer to achieving the age reversal and prolonging the life by many years.
Villeda, S., Plambeck, K., Middeldorp, J., Castellano, J., Mosher, K., & Luo, J. et al. (2014). Young blood reverses age-related impairments in cognitive function and synaptic plasticity in mice. Nature Medicine, 20(6), 659-663. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm.3569
Protein isolated from human cord blood has anti-aging effects on memory in mice. (2017). Science | AAAS. Retrieved 6 September 2017, from http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/04/protein-isolated-human-cord-blood-has-antiaging-effects-memory-mice-0