In a nutshell, older mice were rendered harder, better, faster and stronger in terms of exercise, strength and cognitive function, after injected with blood from young mice, or even just with a substance that's more abundant in younger blood.
Basically, three experiments conducted on mice found that older rodents experienced heightened efficiency in their brains and muscles, similar to their younger counterparts, by a simple blood transfusion. This represents some pretty darn good news for us human beings who are infatuated by youth and get heebie-jeebies by the very thought of ageing."Don't try this at home," one of the authors had to warn for youth-crazed individuals that may try a DIY.
It’s kind of parallel to a good oil change, it seems. Think about it. Get an oil change and your engine revs up sounds of ecstasy and redefines the meaning of a smooth drive.
The study offers promise for patients of Alzheimer’s – a degenerative brain disease that is marked by loss of brain function.
In two of the studies, giving the blood of young mice to old ones undid age-related impairments in the brain, reversing declines in learning and memory and boosting the creation of new neurons and the ability of the brain to change its structure in response to experience.
The third study found that a protein in the blood of young mice improved the ability of old ones (comparable to a 70-year-old person) to exercise.
"I think the study is quite wonderful," said neuroscientist Eric Kandel of Columbia University, who shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in medicine for his studies on the molecular basis of memory, referring to one of the brain papers.
"It suggests there may be diffusible factors in the blood that are age-dependent, and if you can isolate these substances you might be able to give them as dietary supplements," added Kandel, who was not involved in the studies and at 84 continues to conduct research.
The study largely focuses on cognitive function. What about our looks? Can young blood give us young skin?
Previous research on the subject suggested that the magic elixir in young blood is a growth factor called GDF11, which is found in both humans and mice.
In the third study, also in Science, biologists led by Harvard's Amy Wagers used similar techniques to expose old mice to young blood, finding that GDF11 improved the ability of old mice to exercise.
Rubin and Wagers each expect to test GDF11 in people within three to five years.
Stanford's Wyss-Coray believes strongly enough in the therapeutic possibilities of young blood that he co-founded a company, Alkahest, to test its effect in humans. "Alkahest" is the name medieval alchemists gave to a hypothetical substance that would act as “immortal liquor".
So, are you willing to try this out? More importantly, do you think this news will herald the age of real-life vampires?