NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It may sound like something out of the movies, but “young blood” could be the key to reversing aging, according to experts.
As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported Monday, the shocking discovery was made by researchers who studied mice, and the researchers said the findings could soon help treat several ailments in humans. In a way, one could say it seems like Dracula was right all along.
“It is completely thrilling,” said Richard M. Ransohoff, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic and director of the Neuroinflammation Research Center.
Studying the blood of mice for years researchers, were able to isolate a protein called GDF11.
When scientists then produced a supply of the protein synthetically and injected it into older mice, they found the protein rejuvenated stem cells in skeletal and heart muscles, and even increased brain activity — boosting memory.
“It gives us some, in essence, targets for attempting therapeutics in humans,” Ransohoff said.
When they looked more closely, researchers found the protein was much more abundant in younger mice and was found less in older mice. But while it may be seem like the silver bullet to reversing aging, there are dangers.
“Whenever you talk about cell division and the production of new blood vessels, you have to worry about tumors,” Ransohoff said.
But the findings will likely lead to more studies on how the protein could treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease — prospects that have many excited.
“It seems weird – like, taking blood from someone younger, I guess, but if it is a process that became kind of normal and safe, then I don’t see why not,” said Suzie Brown of Manhattan.
“I think, to be frank, that genetics and genetic manipulation is inevitable — so I think we’d better get on with it,” said Anthony Fieldman of Manhattan.
“It’s a really interesting time to be here, because there’s so many different things that are being done, and things are changing,” said Erin Koepke of Detroit.
Even with the findings, studies on the effects of the protein in humans — and whether it can be manufactured outside the body — are still years away.
Researchers at Harvard and Stanford universities, and the University of California at San Francisco, took part in the studies. The study was paid for by several groups, including the National Institute on Aging.
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