It might sound like something out of a horror film, but some scientists believe that replacing the blood of older adults with the blood from younger people may reverse the effects of aging on organs and cognitive function.
Studies have been testing this theory for years on animals, but now, a research team is launching a new study that will look at the effects of blood replacement on humans. Learn more.
Blood Plasma Protein Found to Reverse Effects of Aging
Studies dating back to the 1950s have suggested that refreshing the blood of older adults with blood from younger adults may reverse certain signs of aging including repairing injured muscles, returning liver and skeletal stem cells to a more youthful state, and even curing cardiac hypertrophy.
Researchers believe a protein in the blood plasma called growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) is mainly responsible for the reversal in aging. When the protein level falls, the effects of aging increase.
By identifying this protein, researchers are able to give daily injections, which has been shown to have positive effects on blood vessels and stem cells in the brain — two factors which increase cognitive function.
Testing the Effects of GDF11 on Humans
Thus far, all of the GDF11 studies have been performed on mice. But, a research team from Stanford University led by neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray is looking to see if GDF11 injections will have the same effects on human brains.
In October of 2014, the research team will conduct 30 blood plasma transfusions to older adults who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The team reportedly did not have a difficult time finding volunteers for the trial because blood transfusions have been happening safely for a very long time.
Wyss-Coray expects positive results from the human trials and said that:
“Blood might contain the fountain of youth after all. And it is within us all – that’s the crazy thing. It just loses its power as we age.”
Researchers hope to see cognitive function improve immediately, even if temporarily.
What do you think about these blood replacement trials? Share your thoughts in the comments below.