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Blood Infusions Could Reverse The Signs Of Aging

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Blood infusions could be the future of anti-aging treatments…

We’ll never know if the rumors that the late Kim Jong-il injected himself with blood from young virgin to halt the signs of aging are true, but scientists are currently attempting to prove if such theories are true.

Experiments on mice have shown that it is possible to rejuvenate the brains of old animals by injecting them with blood from the young.

Saul Villeda of Stanford University, who led the work, found that blood from young mice reversed some of the effects of ageing in the older mice, improving learning and memory to a level comparable with much younger animals.

He said that the technique could one day help people stave off the worst effects of ageing, including conditions such as Alzheimers.

blood infusions reverse signs of aging

Blood Infusions Could Reverse The Signs Of Aging

Image Credit: rosmary, 2010.

In his experiments Villeda connected the circulatory systems of an old and young mouse so that their blood could mingle a well established technique used by scientists to study the immune system called heterochronic parabiosis.

When he examined the old mouse after several days, he found several clear signs that the ageing process had slowed down.

The number of stem cells in the brain, for example, had increased. More important, he found a 20% increase in connections between brain cells. Villeda explains how these connections are vital to maintain neural functions:

One of the main things that changes with ageing are these connections, there are a lot less of them as we get older…

That is thought to underlie memory impairment – if you have less connections, neurons arent communicating, all of a sudden you have [problems] in learning and memory.

The work expands on previous studies by Villeda and his colleagues at the Stanford University School of Medicine, which found that the brains of young mice began to age more rapidly when exposed to blood from an older mouse.

In another recent study, which has yet to be published, the team tested the behavior of mice who has been infused with blood. After the mice has been injected with the blood plasma, the portion of the fluid that does not contain cells, they were tested in a water maze and made to remember the location of the hidden platform.

The researchers found that the mice who had received the blood performed as well as mice aged 4-6 months. Those who hadn’t been given the injections made many errors when trying to located the platform.

Villeda theorizes that the blood helps top up levels of vital chemicals that decline with age. However turning the idea into a viable therapy for humans will many more years of research.

Nevertheless Villeda is confident that at some point in the future, people in their 40s or 50s will be able to take anti-aging therapies that utilize this theory.

Even if the finding leads only to a drug that prevents, rather than reverses the normal effects of ageing on the brain, the impact upon future generations will be substantial – potentially outweighing other wonder drugs such as penicillin.

The results were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans on in October, 2012.


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