Last year, a youth-seeking Kim Kardashian caused some cringes and eye-rolls when she sprung for the gory “Vampire Facelift,” a procedure that involved having a cocktail of her own plasma injected into her face. Now, the anti-aging spotlight isn’t on reaping the benefits of your own blood but the blood of the young.
As reported by The New York Times, two teams of scientists published studies on Sunday that show the blood from young mice can actually turn back the clock for old mice, giving new life to the brain and muscles in particular. This discovery could be a huge catalyst in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and heart disease, among other disorders.
There’s long been speculation that blood from the young may contain components that could reverse aging in the old. Back in the 1950s, researchers decided to investigate this theory by conjoining young and old rats, a process called parabiosis. Though it may sound like some sort of freaky, Frankenstein-like experiment, they found that cartilage from the old rats did, in fact, look younger. But not enough was known at the time to understand why this had happened.
Thomas A. Rando, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine decided to revisit this dated study to find out what effect, if any, young blood would have on stem cells. Essential for maintaining healthy tissue, stem cells are known to become less efficient with old age. What Dr. Rando found was that certain compounds in the blood from young mice acted to revitalize the old stem cells, while the blood from the old mice served to slow down the young mice.
A member of Dr. Rando’s team decided to continue on with this study at Harvard, observing the same essence of renewal in the hearts of old mice. Researchers at Stanford explored the effects of this experiment on the brain and saw that upon being administered young blood, old mice did better on memory tests. So it seems, young blood may be a fountain of youth for both the body and mind.
Of course, there’s more research to be done in order to see if this process will have the same effect in humans, and there is the question of whether or not it raises the risk of cancer. Still, it is certainly an exciting development in anti-aging, and just the prospect of a proven method to turn back time puts a little more spring in our step.