Teenagers' blood is being sold for its anti-ageing properties
Whether it be in scientific study or fantasy fiction, the human race has always been obsessed with extending their life, often dreaming of immortality. You can see procedures intended to make us live longer going back hundreds of years.
Studies wherein two animals, one young and one old, are joined in some way to add longevity to their lives, has been happening for years. One particular study provided a potential breakthrough - research carried out with mice. Older mice were injected with the blood from young mice, and they showed signs of improved memory and ability to learn afterwards.
San Francisco's Silicon Valley is particularly obsessed with anti-ageing work like this, with customers paying large sums of money to undertake experimental treatments to live longer. There is a belief in this area that after years of research we may be on the cusp of extending human lives. This is likely why Ambrosia, a recent start-up company, managed to get over a hundred guinea pigs for its latest clinical trial.
Ambrosia, which was founded by the Stanford-trained doctor Jesse Karmazin, 32, last year, held a clinical trial similar to the mice research. But this time, it was on humans; and the American company have claimed that teenagers' blood may have anti-ageing properties.
The treatment involves the transfusion of plasma from the blood of teenagers into older subjects; a procedure that is apparently charging $8000 a shot. They use up to two and a half litres of plasma, the liquid part of blood that remains when other cells are removed. Speaking to The Sunday Times, Dr. Karmazin explained:
"It could help improve things such as appearance or diabetes or heart function or memory. These are all the aspects of ageing that have a common cause. I’m not really in the camp of saying this will provide immortality but I think it comes pretty close, essentially.”
Surplus blood is brought from blood banks, mostly from teenage donors, and the plasma is separated from the rest of the blood. The participants, who have a median age of 60, then receive a mix of plasma from several donors. "We're already seeing people look better after just one treatment," Kamazin said, "It's like plastic surgery from the inside out".
Researchers have warned that the procedure is unproven, and the trial is unlikely to provide hard evidence to support Kamazin's claims. Meanwhile, many in the scientific community have criticised the company for failing to include a placebo group and the fact that its participants had to pay to take part in the trial, which are against usual standards.
However, Kamazin still firmly believes in the procedure. The doctor said a more elaborate clinical trial was not necessary because blood transfusions are a well-established procedure, and so it was only a new extension of work already carried out over the years.
Whether this works remains to be seen, but with this kind of research taking place as we speak, who knows where we could be in ten years time.