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Have biologists found the anti-aging secret?

Trio Of Studies Show Young Blood Can Revitalize Old Mice

So, there's good news and bad news coming out of the scientific community this week.

Biologists might have finally found the secret to fighting off aging, at least in mice. The bad news? That secret is literally the blood of the young.

Three studies will be published this week in the journals Science and Nature, each exploring the regenerative properties of young blood.

Two teams at Harvard and one at Stanford found that a shot of younger blood can produce dramatic improvements in older mice.

The studies are based on decades-old research which infused old mice with the blood of younger mice by literally stitching the animals together. The process is called parabiosis.

Parabiosis turned out to be beneficial for the older mice, and a Stanford team under Dr. Tony Wyss-Corey decided to investigate why. The team used direct injections of plasma to infuse old mice with young blood.

The transfused mice were then run through a series of standard lab tests designed to measure brain functions. The researchers found old mice with younger blood did better than their peers on learning and memory tests.

Interestingly, the improvements seen in the transfused mice vanished if the plasma was heated first - suggesting proteins in the plasma might be responsible for the change. Wyss-Corey said he hopes to pin down what makes young blood so beneficial to old mice in future studies.

And before you get any funny ideas, he told NBC "You can't drink the blood. ... If you wanted to try that in humans you'd have to get a transfusion. And you can't just do that at home."

Over at Harvard, two separate teams lead by Dr. Amy Wagers and Dr. Lee Rubin conducted similar blood-swapping experiments. The teams injected old mice with the protein GDF11, which is more prominent in young mouse blood and has been shown to reverse the signs of aging in the heart.

Turns out, GDF11 can also help out brain, skeleton and muscle tissue as well. According to The Guardian Wagers' team noted improved muscle function and repair, while Rubin's team found transfused mice had more activity and better blood flow in the brain.

Oh, and GDF11 is found in humans as well as mice. Wagers and Rubin say they expect to have human clinical trials of the protein's effects in three to five years.

One independent genetics scientist told National Geographic that taken together, the trio of studies is nothing short of game-changing.

"The changes are astounding in terms of rejuvenating the mice. ... I'm kind of blown away, really, by the results."

And the head of an aging research non-profit group told USA Today the findings couldn't have come soon enough.

"We need to get about funding this research for human use in time to meet the tsunami of age-related diseases that are headed our way."

The Stanford study was published in the journal Nature Sunday, and both Harvard studies will be published in the journal Science on Friday.

Join the discussion

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Lisa May 06 2014 at 3:30 PM

Ok, so it's CREEPY... but it puts some of those old horror movies & stories in a whole new light....

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d1anaw May 05 2014 at 9:32 PM

Anyone who believes that photo is the same person should probably check into a mental health facility.

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Mari Carmel May 05 2014 at 9:31 PM

More animals suffering daily for no reason.

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zaferjun1 May 05 2014 at 9:14 PM

Witches discovered this centuries ago.

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1 reply
Mike Keefer zaferjun1 May 06 2014 at 12:37 AM

Really, they had interveinous injections back then and blood type matching?

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build4life3d May 05 2014 at 8:39 PM

I share the skepticism of others about this kind of tabloid reporting, but have other questions as well: Human trials in 3 to 5 years? why? These studies are based on "decades-old research." Really? We're only just getting around to this now? What ever happened to the land of the free, home of the brave? Lets boldly go out and get something done; This kind of research is moving way too slow.

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1 reply
SweetfeetBaby build4life3d May 05 2014 at 11:18 PM

The US & it's university & other research labs have for several decades produced more worthy and proven medical research than the remainder of the world combined. However that is declining in this country and will decline further as government control "reigns in the cost" of health care. Research money is drying up.

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frankfv8 May 05 2014 at 8:15 PM

Wow now every 1 will become vampires there will be only young anemic children to deal with

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Mike Keefer May 05 2014 at 8:10 PM

Read about this a few months ago in one of the science news pubs.
Figure some old billionaires are already collecting young, healthy, disease free, tissue matched youngsters for this process.
Hook one up like a kidney machine for a few hours each day.
Too bad we won't find out how well it works or whether or not there are any bad side effects (such as accelerated aging) for donors. The people that will be doing this will certainly not publish any results.

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mulepick May 05 2014 at 7:28 PM

Yawn. Known for years as the Siegfried and Roy procedure. If I could get my email easier, I'd bail to Comodo in an instant and say goodbye to AOL and Huff forever...

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klw4919 May 05 2014 at 6:43 PM

I used to shun the tabloids but AOL has been making the Inquirer and the others seem not so bad at all. At least they are professionally produced and probably contain no more misrepresentations than AOL does. By the way, is this AOL.news service sort of the poorman's HUFFPOST? If the fascists at AOL./HuffPost demand that you register so that your comments will be "responsible and civil" (read Censorship) do they plan to instigate that policy with this site as well? .

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crazy ray May 05 2014 at 6:29 PM

Bad science, poor reporting, or both? Using terms such as better or more is distinctively unscientific where actual, numeric measurements are necessary. How much better, now much more? How many animals: 10,. 20 100, 10000? Reproducibly? As it sits, the article is crap, good for nothing more than attracting readers.

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