If someone hasn’t said it before, I’ll be the first: Those who do not learn from science fiction movies are condemned to eventually live in one.
Researchers at two universities published nearly-simultaneous independent papers in Nature Medicine and Science on experiments where older mice were given blood from younger mice. Both found that the older mice showed improvements in mental and physical abilities which could result in better and longer lives, at least in mice.
At the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Saul Villeda used mice whose ages in mouse years were approximately 20 and 60 in human years. His team injected one group of older mice with blood either from younger mice or from other older rodents. Those getting the young blood performed better in mazes and on learning and memorization tests.
While Villeda admits he doesn’t know what’s in the younger blood that could cause these results, a team at Harvard may have the answer. In similar experiments, researchers there found that older mice injected with young blood had stronger grips and more endurance on treadmills. They also noticed that the treated mice had more blood vessels and flow in their brains. They isolated a protein called GDF11 found in higher concentrations in young mouse blood. When injected with just GDF11, the older mice showed the same improvements in strength and blood circulation.
Amy Wagers, author of the papers on the Harvard study, says an identical GDF11 is also in human blood at levels that decrease with age. If the results are the same in human tests, it could be a possible treatment for age-related physical and mental decline.
Sounds promising and easy for do-it-yourselfers, doesn’t it? Pay heed to Saul Villeda.
Don’t try this at home.