Increased growth of brain cells, activation of brain plasticity and better learning skills and memory, was the results. But not everyone agrees, on the potential of using young blood.
The only thing Tony Wyss-Coray had done was to transfer blood from a young mouse to an old one. Thus, he built on a series of research results that may indicate that blood contains at least some fraction of the youth’s source.
For the Stanford researcher, the promising mouse results from 2014 saw the light the same year as the newly founded company Alkahest. The goal was now to develop a treatment for Alzheimer’s.
The company has been running a major clinical trial since April 2018, where elderly Alzheimer’s patients where injected with a specific plasma fraction from healthy people with an average age of 32. Last month, it was also the first Parkinson patience turn to receive a dose, according to New Scientist.
Ultimately, the company hopes to find the blood’s specific benefits to exploit them in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases.
The view of Sceptics
Despite promising research results and great interest, far from all aging researchers are convinced of the potential of young blood.
The hypothesis is that the blood of young organisms contains factors that improve cell function. It not only has cognitive consequences but has also been shown to work against a large number of other age-deficiencies, at least on mice.
The problem is that it has been very difficult to identify the possible substances that should give it this effect. So there is still quite a lot of skepticism from many researchers in the field.
New York Clinic
The resurrected dream of treating the symptoms of aging with young blood is primarily based on trials conducted at Stanford in the 2000s. Here, young mouse blood recreated liver and muscle cells in older mice through so-called parabiosis, where one rodent was sewn together with the other so that the same blood ran through both paths.
The same experiment also showed signs of improved brain activity, which inspired Tony Wyss-Coray’s work. First with mice, then with people. And here Alkahest is not alone.
In 2016, another American company called Ambrosia LLC also started clinical trials, where they gave people over 35 years of age blood from people under the age of 25, and examined a wide range of biological markers of old age, including stem cell proliferation, inflammation, blood clots, immune function, Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and increased risk of cancer.
The results for now completed trial have not yet been published. However, they have proved to be ‘very positive,’ the Stanford-trained Jesse Karmazin, could tell Business Insider earlier this year.
Apparently so positive that Ambrosia is now building a clinic in New York, where older people can just pay for young blood.
Why the Improvement?
The hypothesis that older people can benefit from healthy substances found in younger people’s blood but later lost with age is ‘not far out,’ according to researchers.
Some also believe that the original experiments probably gave a real improvement in the mice. The problem is just that you have no idea what created it.
There are so many factors in the blood that we know affect the aging process. So the way it was illuminated in the original test makes it difficult to prove what really works, ”They argument
“If you could find the factor or factors that actually worked, it would be absolutely fantastic. It just hasn’t proved that easy. “
The pursuit of the working factors has also brought with it some controversy
In 2010, researchers began to question the data basis of several studies published by one of the most highly-profiled researchers in the field Amy Wagers, including a 2008 study describing GDF11 protein as one of the “rejuvenation factors” in young blood.
Treatment with Thousand Proteins
The results from Alkahest’s first trial – in which 18 Alzheimer’s patients over the age of 50 received blood plasma from persons under 30 – were released in 2017. They showed that the procedure was safe, but there were only small signs of cognitive improvement for the test subjects.
Since then, however, the company has continued to work with mice and found that a specific fraction of the young blood plasma of about 1,000 proteins creates a particularly powerful improvement in the cognitive characteristics of the mice.
In April 2018, Alkahest saw the first of the new trials with a plasma fraction called GRF6019, which 40 subjects suffering from Alzheimer’s have begun to receive treatment with. December 2018, the first of a total of 90 Parkinson’s patients also saw their first injections with another fraction.
The reason why the particular fractions should be able to improve cognition may be because they contain proteins that indirectly rejuvenate the brain by strengthening the immune system, says Michal Schwarts of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel according to New Scientist. There is no definitive answer yet.
It also lacks in connection with which of the approximately 1,000 proteins that possibly provide the beneficial effect. Therefore, Alkahest now tests them separately. In the end, they hope to find the drug or substances in the blood that will provide a beneficial effect, and then synthesize them in the laboratory.
It`s fair to assume all researchers agree it would great if it succeeds, but whether it is possible, they do not know yet.