After many years and billions of dollars spent trying to find the secret to anti-aging, could the real solution have been lying in young blood cells all along? In three studies published by Harvard and Stanford University, the blood of young mice was found to replenish the brain cells, muscle tissue, and even the hearts of older mice.
Tony Wyss-Coray was the lead scientist on the Stanford study and is a professor of neurology. Wyss-Coray confirms that the fur of the older mice not only looked better after the young blood was given to them, but they also groomed themselves better, and appeared in better health overall. Wyss-Coray was surprised that something so simple was able to completely transform the older mice so dramatically. The scientist asserts that every tissue in the body of the old mice was improved radically.
The real question on everyone’s mind is: can these results of mice also transfer over to real people and is young blood the secret to anti-aging? Researchers are not sure if this process will work in humans too, but they are extremely curious and optimistic. Wyss-Coray says that he plans to conduct a small study with Alzheimer’s patients. The scientist wants to see if these patients are helped in any way by healthy young blood or plasma, and if they can actually tolerate it.
The Harvard researchers are also moving forward to study heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other anti-aging issues. Lee Rubin is a neuroscientist and Harvard professor who is curious about this new regenerative ability. Rubin is making it a goal to understand if the young blood would help people with genetic diseases, or more specifically, people with spinal muscular atrophy.
The key to the young blood is a protein that was found in abundance, called growth differentiation, or GDF11. Interestingly enough, humans also have this same protein in their blood. Older mice have much less of this protein naturally, but young mice had an abundance. The mice were surgically attached to each other in order to share the same blood supply. When the old mice shared the blood, they were found to remember better and behave like young mice again. Rubin said that when the old mice were given the protein, they grew new brain cells and new blood cells, and this lead to better brain function.
There has not been a study conducted yet to see if there are any negative side effects to the mice after they received the protein. Researchers want to explore if it is possible to for humans to replicate this study, and if so, how much GDF11 people would need to receive similar positive results like the mice.
The idea that young blood could hold the secret to a real anti-aging solution is exciting. If a young blood transfer can be replicated in humans, it might offer improvement to our memory and brain function, but also decrease the effects of old age. Future research is also expected to explore whether people who live longer have more GDF11 protein in their blood than other people. It still remains to be seen if we have stumbled on the fountain of youth and solved anti-aging, but with the discovery of young blood, science is much closer than ever before.
Opinion By Sara Petersen
Med Page Today