That creepy goth kid from your high school who was always reading Anne Rice novels and staring at your jugular is really going to dig this news. The whole vampire myth about young blood having rejuvenation powers, it could be true. Yes, in creepy news of the day, scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that when infused with the blood of younger mice, older mice grow more nerve cells in their brains and have better memory.
“There are factors present in blood from young mice that can recharge an old mouse’s brain so that it functions more like a younger one,” Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD said in a press release. “We’re working intensively to find out what those factors might be and from exactly which tissues they originate”.
The ‘vampire doctor’ explained that after infusing older mice with plasma from the blood of younger mice, the cells in hippocampus – the part of your brain that makes memories – of the older mice came back to life. These nerve cells in the older mice became better at strengthening the connections between one nerve cell and another, and the mice were able to navigate mazes quicker than before they got that sweet shot of young blood.
A similar study at Harvard discovered that a special protein called ‘GDF11’ in the bloodstream is responsible for keeping the brain and muscles young and strong. This protein is very present in younger years, but like everything else deteriorates with age, hence the appeal to bloodsuckers of the night. Doug Melton, of Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, is optimistic about the possibility of taking the trials from mice to humans in the next several years.
“We all wonder why we were stronger and mentally more agile when young, and these two unusually exciting papers actually point to a possible answer. There seems to be little question that, GDF11 has an amazing capacity to restore aging muscle and brain function”.
A little creepy, yes… but it also might provide researchers with a whole new way of combating the effects of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. “It isn’t out of question that GDF11, or a drug developed from it, might be worthwhile in Alzheimer’s Disease,” added Harvard stem cell biologist Prof Lee Rubin.
It might take some time to find out if this discovery holds true for humans, but Stanford University Medical School as well as Harvard are planning to explore the development with a small clinical trial that would give Alzheimer’s patients injections of plasma from young donors. No fangs required.