So how does this relate to humans?
According to Dr. Saul Villeda as he spoke at the Society of Neuroscience conference in New Orleans on Tuesday, October 16, 2012, young blood transfusions to older mice have shown to stimulate cognitive functions that normally deteriorate with age. In addition, the young blood rejuvenated brain connections. This can be the first step in battling against age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, in humans, reports The Telegraph.
Last year, Dr. Villeda and researchers from the Stanford University in California have conducted experiments with 12 old mice given blood transfusions over a month’s period. These eight intravenous shots used blood plasma from both young and old mice as the researchers then tested the mice’s memory functions by having them locate a hidden platform covered in water.
The mice given the young blood plasma did well during the test. They remembered where the platform was more quickly than the mice given the old blood plasma, according to New Scientist.
What was discovered, in essence, was that older blood carries certain types of inflammatory proteins that causes damage to the body and the brain. Young blood does not these proteins as instead it activates the body’s natural healing process to create healthy cell growth and allow nerve cells to function properly.
Such results are encouraging for older humans who are suffering from learning problems, memory loss, and cognitive diseases. If younger adults gave blood to seniors, the blood can rejuvenate old brain tissue and maintain nerve cells to prevent such cognitive issues associated with the aging. The young blood will also be able to re-grow connections to the brain that are lost during the natural aging process.
As stated by Dr. Villeda, “We know that blood has this huge effect on brain cells… but didn’t know if its effects extended beyond cell regeneration.”
Perhaps it is not a true elixir of youth. But for older adults, it would be a miracle to be given something that will help them keep their memories and learning functions. So many of them are forced into care homes and hospices in their final years because they can no longer take care of themselves in their communities due to memory loss and other diseases.
This wouldn’t be the first research done concerning young blood infused into old mice. A study conducted back in 2005 tested the effects of young mouse blood in older mice to determine its effects on muscles, according to Live Science. Conducted by Stanford Neurologist Thomas Rando, the test was to determine if transfusions of young blood into older mice could help muscles repair themselves after an injury.
More research is in the works to discover the why of how young blood has these encouraging effects on the brain versus old blood. By discovering the specifics of what is in older blood that causes such damage to nerve cells and brain tissue, researchers may be able to synthesize a drug to prevent it from happening. When that day comes, older adults will no longer have to worry about losing their memory and learning functions as they age.
If young blood transfusions can protect against elderly diseases, it is something to pursue with earnest due to the growing population of the elderly. And it will be due to the tireless effort of researchers, not Twilight movie makers, who will make this happen.