Another Road to the Fountain of Youth
Recently on Lunatic Laboratories we reported on a new path to the fountain of youth that had been found [at least for mice]. Well today, we are happy to announce that another road to the fountain of youth has been potentially discovered. This time the discovery was made by Harvard Stem Cell Institute [HSCI] and Stanford researchers.
Being the over achievers they are, they released not one, not two, but three studies showing that substances in the blood of young mice rejuvenate the brain and muscles of aging mice. Two of those three studies, by Harvard researchers were released early online just yesterday, but won’t be published until later this week in the journal Science. The two are similar to the third [albeit not connected], Stanford study that suggests the same reversal of aging also happens to their hearts.
But before we go over the implications, let’s talk science. This research focused on growth differentiation factor 11 [or GDF11 as I will be referring to it from here on out as]. GDF11 is a protein found in the blood, as previously noted, that decreases as you age [doesn’t everything?] This protein, which was being studied in mice is also found in humans, which I would imagine leads to some very hopeful researchers.
What they did [which sounds a little extreme, I will admit] is surgically attach an older mouse[with the equivalent age of around 70 human years] to a younger mouse, allowing the two mice to share blood supplies.
“Exposing young mice to old recharges their brain and now they remember better and behave in many ways like younger mice,” Wyss-Coray, Professor of Neurology said.
The second study at Harvard, led by stem-cell biologist Amy Wagers showed that boosting GDF11 in the blood of older mice allowed them to run faster on a treadmill and increased their ability to recover from an in injury. “It’s not clear how much GDF11 people would need to get a similar effect, if that were even possible,” Wagers said.
Wagners went on to say, “Future research will explore whether people who live extra long lives have more GDF11 or other proteins in their blood that might contribute to their longevity.”
A small clinical trial on Alzheimer’s patients to see if they can tolerate the treatment and to help determine the effect of the plasma from young, healthy people should be starting very soon.
The hope is that research and discoveries like this one will help offset the flood of aging related diseases from the baby boomer generation, for which cost of care is skyrocketing.
While this discovery might not be beneficial to the average “young person”, it’s important to remember that there are other diseases that affect young people, some of which treatments like this one my hold the key to unlocking a cure or, at the very least, some hope of a normal life.
I predict that in the next 20 to 25 years we will be seeing people living well into the 100’s and maybe even into the 200 year old mark. All while improving the quality of life, ideally up to the last breath. Personally, I’m hoping to live long enough to see it all happen.
Villeda S.A., Plambeck K.E., Middeldorp J., Castellano J.M., Mosher K.I., Luo J., Smith L.K., Bieri G., Lin K. & Berdnik D. & (2014). Young blood reverses age-related impairments in cognitive function and synaptic plasticity in mice, Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.3569