The Elixir of Youth has been looked for and researched since the dawn of time with no spectacular results so far, but this doesn’t mean scientists aren’t making tremendous progress in their fight against age related impairments that come with age and diseases. Three recent studies give hope to the elder population and Alzheimer’s patients, as scientists found that young blood can undo brain age – related impairments in mice. We still may wait for a long time until similar results are found in humans too, but from a scientific point of view, the conclusions drawn by the biologists from Stanford University and University of California San Francisco published in Nature Medicine suggest that age related problems can be reversed with the help of young blood transfusions. Now if this sounds a bit like a fantasy story involving vampires, don’t jump to such rush judgements yet! Let’s see what the studies results are and how they can be interpreted.
Two of the studies showed that the blood from young mice managed to reverse age – related brain impairments in old mice, while the third focused on the ability of young mice blood to improve muscle functions in the old mice populations. The “old mice” can be compared to 70 year old people and these results, gathered together, might open new paths in the research of Alzheimer’s disease, mostly because the blood transfusions showed significant results in improving learning and memory skills. Old mice receiving young blood showed improved results on two standard tests of learning and memory, while on a structural level, the test subjects showed structural and molecular changes in the treated old mice group in comparison with regular old mice groups sharing the same age. The molecular and structural changes were found at the hippocampus level, one brain structure that is not only deeply involved in the cognitive processes of learning and memory, but one of the most vulnerable areas to be devastated by Alzheimer’s disease.
As a result to one of the three studies, scientist Lee Rubin from Harvard University declared that
Regardless of the age of the old brain . . . young blood is still able to rejuvenate the aged brain
referring to the finding of a growth factor in the blood of young mice, called GDF11. The beauty of all this is that the GDF11 is also found in humans, leading researchers to build the experimental basis for human testing. The GDF11 also was found to improve the old mice abilities to move better and perform excellent in physical exercise trials, which also leads to new doors towards human testing. The therapeutic benefits of young blood are still to be explored and researched upon, but scientists say that human trials won’t have to wait too long. Maybe Dracula and other famous vampires are now laughing, because they knew all these for millennia, but in our real world, there are countless of patients waiting for a ray of hope and sunshine in their lives.