- Using young blood to help slow down the process of aging has been explored since 1950s.
- Recently, a clinical trial has been launched in California where the blood plasma of young people is infused in older adults.
- A single infusion of a two-litre bag of plasma will cost patients $10,500.
- Health experts warn that the procedure is just a marketing gimmick.
Ambrosia has launched a clinical trial of infusing the blood plasma of young people into older people to study whether there are anti-aging benefits.
Ambrosia is a private clinic in California offering blood plasma from teenagers and young adults aged 16-25 as an anti-aging remedy.
‘Health officials claim that in addition to paying upwards of $10k for a procedure that might not actually work, patients are at risk of infection and lung diseases.’
Jesse Karmazin, founder of Ambrosia said a single infusion of a two-litre bag of plasma will cost patients a hefty $10,500, but he promises customers will see improvements within a month.
Since the 1950s, the notion of using young blood to help slow down the process of aging has been explored, when researcher Clive M. McCay joined old and young rats together by stitching the skin on their flanks.
This process, known as parabiosis, saw their circulatory systems becoming joined, which made the cartilage of the older rat appear more youthful than it would otherwise. There have been countless studies since McCay's research, with more recent research also showing positive results.
In 2011, researchers found young blood administered to old rats resulted in a burst of new neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that forms memories.
In 2013, a paper published in Cell, said that while a component in young blood, GDF11 increased muscle strength, other researchers were unable to replicate it.
"In our study, circulation between the young and old mouse was maintained for nearly four weeks," says Amy Wagers, a professor of regenerative biology at Harvard University and an author of the Cell report.
To test the theory, scientists produced GDF11 and injected it into old mice, which resulted in their hearts becoming rejuvenated.
Karmazin said he believed these studies were proof the treatment should be used for humans. "I think the animal and retrospective data is compelling, and I want this treatment to be available to people," he said.
Karmazin has joined forces with David C. Wright, physician with a private intravenous-therapy centre. Wright has become well-known for his "alternative" IV treatments despite being disciplined by the California Medical Board for incorrectly administering antibiotic infusions in 2015.
As of December last year, the duo had infused 25 people with young blood and claim to have seen impressive results.
Karmazin said one patient who suffered chronic fatigue syndrome "feels healthy for the first time" and "looks younger" after receiving the treatment.
Professor Irina Conboy from University of California believes previous studies needed more solid evidence to prove they actually work. "The problem is that there is no evidence to suggest that an infusion of plasma from young to old animals reverses aging," she said.
Bioethicist Jonathan Kimmelman also believed there is no proof the plasma infusions work and Ambrosia's treatment is just a marketing gimmick to earn money.
"There are a lot of patient-funded trials run by companies that use the trials as a way to sell products that wouldn't be marketable because they'd have to be regulated by the FDA," he said.
In addition to paying upwards of $10k for a procedure that might not actually work, chief of the immunotherapy division at California Pacific Medical Center Dobri Kiprov said patients were at risk of lung injury or deadly infections.
"To expose people to danger unnecessarily — in my mind, that is really horrible," he said.