It is completely understandable, if not natural, to want eternal youth but for humans achieving such an impossibility remains – at least for now – just that, an impossibility. Anti-aging researchers however, including biomedical theorist Aubrey de Grey, who believes the first person to achieve a 1,000 year lifespan has already been born, are working on ways that could one day create transformative therapies that would bring this power to everyone. According to New Scientist.com, neuroscientists at Alkahest, a San Carlos, California-based anti-aging research firm found that injecting an old mice with blood of teenage humans reverses aging.
In a series of new trials, Alkahest, whose mission “is to enrich the health and vitality of humankind through..therapies that counterbalance the aging process”, said its researchers came up with the idea to inject human blood into the mice after seeing “a rejuvenation effect” from an earlier study. In that particular experiment, Saul Villeda, an PhD student, found that after surgically conjoining an old mouse and a young mouse so that they would share the same circulatory system for several weeks, the elderly half started to show signs of rejuvenation by experiencing a burst of brain cell growth in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is crucial for memory and learning. The young mouse, meanwhile, acted older and started to exhibit signs of brain ageing after receiving old blood.
Enter Blood Plasma – The Liquid Part of Blood
Could blood plasma – the single largest component of human blood – from young people have the same benefits as blood? According to Alkahest, the elixir of youth appears to actually be in the blood plasma. In fact, several studies have found that injecting plasma from young mice into old mice can help body and brain become biologically younger.
In Alkahest’s case, its neuroscientists took blood samples from 18-year-old humans and injected the plasma into 12-month-old mice – which is roughly equivalent to a human at 50 years – twice a week for three weeks. Following the injections, the researchers noted the old mice began to behave like younger mice. They were running around in open spaces and were better at remembering their way around a special maze that measures spatial learning and memory. Alkahest’s neurosciene team also examined the brains of the treated mice, and found evidence of new cells being created in the hippocampus.
“Young human plasma improves cognition…Their memory was preserved.” says Alkahest’ Sakura Minami, the neuroscientist who presented the findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego on Monday.
Minami also said she and her team of neuroscientists have ideas about what exactly in the blood is responsible for neurogenesis increase, or the growth of new brain cells, but that she won’t reveal what they are yet.
“It’s more or less what we would expect,” commented Victoria Bolotina, at Boston University in Massachusetts, noting “[t]he blood of young people must have something in it that’s important for keeping them young.”
Though more research is needed to realize all the hopes and dreams of this ‘youth magic’, based on Minami’s research, blood plasma may hold the secrets to youth and a similar technique could one day combat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other ailments that come with age.
Human trials are already underway to test this hypothesis.