Dracula was onto something, apparently - but it's not the blood per se; it's the plasma.
Blood plasma from young people has been found to rejuvenate old mice, improving their memory, cognition, and physical activity. The method has the potential to be developed into a treatment for people, says Sakura Minami of Alkahest, the company behind the work.
The key to youth appears to be in the blood plasma – the liquid part of blood. Several studies have found that injecting plasma from young mice into old mice can help rejuvenate the brain and other organs, including the liver, heart, and muscle.
So they tried injecting plasma from 18 year-old humans into aged mice, and obtained the same results: treated mice were much better at maze navigation and other tests than their untreated counterparts, and behaved more like young mice. Currently, human trials are underway in which young plasma is injected into Alzheimer's patients.
“Young human plasma improves cognition,” says Minami, who presented her findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego, California, on Monday. “Their memory was preserved.”
“It’s more or less what we would expect,” says Victoria Bolotina, at Boston University in Massachusetts. “The blood of young people must have something in it that’s important for keeping them young,” she says.
They're hot on the trail of isolating the components in young plasma as a means for synthesizing, potentially, anti-ageing treatments - which might have the effect of viewing ageing as less a "natural process" and more of a "treatable disease" condition. On the other hand, as youth is wasted on the young, one can imagine a dystopian scenario in which body farms are established specifically for the purpose of maintaining young people in order to harvest their plasma. I'm considering writing a story based upon such a society.
"Sell me your children!"