Youth transplants can slow down the aging process
The Stanford team infused 10-week-old mouse fluid into the brains of 18-month-old mice for seven days and found that larger mice were better at remembering to associate a small electric shock with noise and flashing light.
A closer look showed that the fluid had “awakened” processes that regenerated neurons and myelin, the fatty material that protects nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center.
Crucially, scientists believe they know which part of the fluid is the main driver of the effect: a protein called serum response factor (SRF) that decreases in larger mice.
When they used a growth factor called Fgf17 to increase SRF levels, the larger mice showed the same improvements seen with juvenile infusions, suggesting that Fgf17 could be used as a treatment to rejuvenate the aged brain.
The aging process is “malleable”
Dr. Tony Wyss-Coray of the Stanford School of Medicine in California said the research showed that the aging process is “malleable” and that improving the environment in which neurons live can be a better approach than targeting cells.
And it’s not just in the brain that the regenerative properties of youth are promising. The effect seems to work from head to toe.
Earlier this month, the Norwich Quadram Institute showed that transplanting fecal microbes from young mice into old mice reversed the hallmarks of aging in the gut, eyes and brain.
In contrast, when microbes were transplanted from old mice to young mice, it induced inflammation in the brain, depleting a key protein needed for normal vision.
The team is now working to understand how long these positive effects last and how they can affect organs far away from the gut.
Dr. Aimee Parker, lead author of the Quadram Institute study, said: “We were thrilled to find that by changing the gut microbiota of the elderly, we could rescue the indicators of age-related decline usually in degenerative conditions of the eye and brain. ”
Although recent studies have been done with mice, advances indicate a major shift in the field of aging, which could soon revolutionize therapies.
Experiments even show that young blood can reverse the aging process, perhaps even curing Alzheimer’s disease.
Historically, cultures have venerated the blood of young people. It was even rumored that Kim Jong-il, the former dictator of North Korea, injected blood from healthy young virgins to slow down the aging process.
The first indication that young blood can be rejuvenated came in 2005 when Stanford conducted a horrific experiment by joining old and young mice together to share a circulatory system.
After a month, the scientists discovered that the liver and muscles of the older mouse had begun to regenerate.
In 2014, Harvard University discovered that young blood also “recharges” the brain, causing the formation of new blood vessels and improving the memory and learning of mice.
The team even identified a “youth protein” that is responsible for keeping the brain and muscles young and strong.
Protein, known as GDF11, is present in the bloodstream in large quantities when we are young, but it depletes as we age.
Increasing GDF11 protein levels in mice has been shown to improve the function of all organs in the body, including the heart.
$ 8,000 for teen blood plasma
However, the field is not without controversy. In 2019, an American start-up called Ambrosia that offered teen blood plasma to Silicon Valley billionaires for $ 8,000 a liter was forced to close after the FDA warned against the procedure.
In 2017, Ambrosia began a clinical trial designed to find out what happens when the veins of adults fill with blood from younger people, but never published the results.
There is still hope that one day these procedures will be used in humans.
In 2019, Wyss-Coray biotechnology company Alkahest reported the results of a small six-month trial that saw 40 Alzheimer’s patients infused with a special mixture of human plasma, which contained more protein than they disappear with age.
He seemed to stop his expected mental decline. The company also has similar trials underway for Parkinson’s disease, age-related macular degeneration, inflammatory disease and end-stage renal disease.
The Harvard-based company Elevian is also working on producing enough GDF11 to begin human trials exploring whether it can help people recover from a stroke.
“Our research suggests that by focusing on the fundamental and common mechanisms of aging rather than a specific disease, it may be possible to treat and prevent multiple age-related diseases,” said Dr. Mark Allen, CEO. and co-founder of Elevian.
It may be only a few years before the “youth transplants” finally move from the pages of Gothic horror novels to the clinic. It remains to be seen whether patients will feel distressed by these vampire procedures.