Giving old mice young blood reversed age-related declines in brain function, muscle strength and stamina, researchers say
Researchers in the US are close to proving that a type of infusion therapy can possibly reverse harmful aging processes in the brain, muscles, heart and other organs. It gives hope as three separate reports released by major journals on Sunday that demonstrate in experiments on mice the dramatic rejuvenating effects of chemicals found naturally in young blood.
Infusing younger blood reversed age-related declines in memory and learning, brain function, muscle strength and stamina, researchers found. In two of the reports, scientists identified a single chemical in blood that appears to reverse some of the damage caused by aging.
Although all three studies were done in mice, researchers believe a similar rejuvenating therapy may work in humans as well. A clinical trial is expected to begin in the next three to five years.
"The evidence is strong enough now, in multiple tissues, that it's warranted to try and apply this in humans," said Saul Villeda, first author of one of the studies at the University of California in San Francisco.
Aging is one of the greatest risk factors for a slew of major conditions, from cancer and heart disease to diabetes and dementia. As the population grows older, the proportion of people suffering from such conditions soars. A therapy that slows or reverses age-related damage in the body has the potential to prevent a public health crisis by delaying the onset of several diseases at once.
The three studies took a similar approach to investigate the anti-aging effects of young blood. Old and young mice were paired up and joined like conjoined twins. To do this, researchers made an incision along the side of each mouse and let the wounds heal in a way that joined the animals together. The procedure meant that the mice shared each others blood supplies.
Villeda found that blood from three-month-old mice reversed some age-related changes in the brains of 18-month-old mice. The animals grew bigger and stronger neural connections in a region called the hippocampus, meaning the brain cells could communicate to each other more effectively, according to a report in Nature Medicine. An 18-month-old mouse is considered to be equivalent in age to a 70-year-old person
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