Can aging be reversed by getting blood transfusions from young people?
Vampires and the Fountain of Youth are living legends once again. New studies that hope to find youthful properties in the blood of humans under the age of 25. What could go wrong?
Silicon Valley bigwig Peter Thiel is a big fan of immortality. He’s using a lot of his biotech fortune to fund research aiming to reverse and ultimately stop the biological deterioration also known as aging. His latest idea is to inject young people’s blood into himself. If that sounds like modern-day vampirism, you’re correct.
Almost every culture in the world has a version of the vampire myth. In all of them, the vampire must ingest the blood of the living in order to retain its immortality. While humans created the monster, the belief in the life-giving properties of blood has been with us for millennia.
The first researcher to figure this out was Wanda Ruth Lunsford. She was a 26-year-old scientist working in New York City. She put an old rat and a young rat to sleep and tied their skin together. The rats’ blood supplies joined, and after several weeks the old rat had new neurons growing in its brain. The old rat also had a stronger heartbeat, bigger muscles, and brown hair instead of gray hair. Those results made Lunsford believe young blood could scientifically reverse the aging process. Professor David Agus backs her up:
While Lunsford was run out of the scientific community, scientists found her conclusions compelling. This year, laboratories at Harvard, Stanford, and University of California San Francisco not only repeated her experiment; it replicated her results. The exact reasons for those results are unclear, but the most likely culprit may be blood plasma.
Additional scientific testing on mice has shown that giving old mice blood plasma from young mice improves muscle function, cognition, and even sense of smell. Even more striking, those same studies showed that transfusing old blood into young mice sped up signs of aging. The results happened whether the mice’s circulatory systems were surgically combined or simple injections of blood plasma, but further tests are needed to determine why.
Yet one of the key culprits of blood plasma that may be causing these results is its ability to transport stem cells. Stem cells, according to The Mayo Clinic, are “the body's raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated.” Those cells can generate new cells, and those cells “can either become new stem cells (self-renewal) or specialized cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle or bone. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.”
Stem cells are important and powerful -- but as Dr. Agus explains in the video above, they shut off at age 25. That’s why researchers are now focusing on blood transfusions from people under that age. One US company pursuing this research is Ambrosia, who hopes to inject 35-year-olds with the blood plasma of 25-year-olds. They’re hoping to examine the effects of those stem cells in the older participants, and are currently hoping to recruit 600 volunteers. Given that they’re charging participants $8,000 for each injection, their participant list may be skewed toward the Silicon Valley crowd. Similar studies in China and Korea are pursuing this line of research, too, albeit without the steep cost.
The science may sound more like fiction than fact, but it’s not. The FDA has approved blood for off-label prescription uses, provided its results are not guaranteed. That clearance, combined with the fact that the majority of the funds for this research are being provided by Silicon Valley, means blood might become a premium anti-aging treatment solely for the uber-rich. Putting that kind of medicine in the hands of people paying for its outcome is problematic. Hopefully, if promising results come in, more objective research can advance it for everyone’s benefit.
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.