National Geographic Daily News
A photo of an old woman's hands and legs.

New research with mice shows promise for reversing the aging process.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MARGHERITA VITAGLIANO, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT

Jennifer Frazer

for National Geographic

Published May 4, 2014

In what could have profound implications for understanding the process of aging, a trio of scientific papers published today show that infusing elderly mice with the blood of young mice can reverse many of the mental and physical impairments of growing old.

Expanding on earlier research, the three studies—published concurrently in Nature Medicine and Science—demonstrate rejuvenating effects in memory, muscle strength, endurance, and sense of smell. Together, they suggest that there might be factors in the young blood that can produce globally regenerating effects in older animals. In addition to reversing the normal ravages of aging, the papers suggest, young blood might help turn around declines in cognitive function associated with age-related conditions such as heart enlargement and Alzheimer's disease.

"The changes are astounding in terms of rejuvenating the mice both in the periphery of the body and in the brain," said Rudolph Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard and director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was not involved in any of the three research projects. "I'm kind of blown away, really, by the results."

The study in Nature Medicine, conducted by Saul Villeda at the University of California, San Francisco, Tony Wyss-Coray at Stanford, and their colleagues, builds on earlier work that showed young blood could stimulate the growth of brain stem cells and new neurons, as well as work that indicated that giving old blood to young mice can have the opposite effect, impairing their cognitive abilities.

As described in the Nature Medicine paper, Villeda and his colleagues physically connected the circulatory systems of old mice to young mice via surgery that stitched their abdominal cavities together. Over time, elderly mice tethered to young mice sprouted more new connections between nerve cells in their brains than did controls tethered to other elderly mice. Senior mice invigorated by their juniors' blood also produced proteins associated with neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to reorganize itself in response to experience. The young mice were 3 months old; the elderly mice were 18 months old.

The UCSF and Stanford scientists also directly injected old mice with young-mouse blood plasma, the yellowish liquid base of blood in which proteins and other solids are suspended. Over the course of three weeks, the old mice received eight blood plasma injections from young mice. Afterward, the treated mice remembered how to find a hidden resting platform in a water maze better than the controls did. They also exhibited better recollection of a chamber they had been conditioned to associate with a mild foot shock.

While the ingredient in the young blood responsible for these effects is still unknown, a clue was provided when the scientists heated the plasma before injection, and no such benefits were seen. Since proteins are deactivated by heat, the results are consistent with the relevant circulating factor being a protein.

"When I first heard this story from Tony Wyss-Coray, I thought it was absolutely amazing," said Tanzi. "I thought it was too good to be true." Now that two additional papers have come out in Science with similar findings, and all three papers are by well-respected labs, "now you have to believe it's real," he said.

In the first of the two papers in Science, a team from Harvard found that by either connecting the circulatory systems of young and old mice, or injecting old mice with a signaling protein isolated from young blood, they could strengthen and rejuvenate aged muscles. The improvement was measured in several ways, according to Amy Wagers, professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard and one of the paper's chief authors. The DNA of old muscle stem cells was repaired; muscle fibers and cell structures called mitochondria morphed into healthier, more youthful versions; grip strength improved; and the mice were able to run on treadmills longer than their untreated counterparts.

The protein used in the study, called GDF11, was already known to reduce age-related heart enlargement, which is characteristic of heart failure. But Wagers said the new work shows that GDF11 has a similar age-reversal effect on other tissue, in particular the skeletal muscle and brain.

"That means that this protein is really acting in somewhat of a coordinating way across tissues," she said, and that drugs could be developed to target a "single common pathway" seen in a variety of age-related dysfunctions, including muscle weakness, neurodegeneration, and heart disease.

In the second Science paper, another team from Harvard, led by research associate Lida Katsimpardi, also transferred GDF11 from young mice to old ones either by surgically linking their circulatory systems or through injections. They then looked at cells in the subventricular zone, an area in the mouse brain related to odor perception. The young blood improved circulation in this region, which in turn stimulated the production of new nerve cells. When these cells migrated to the olfactory bulb and matured, the elderly mouse's sense of smell improved, reversing the loss in sensitivity normally associated with aging.

What's most exciting about this work, said Katsimpardi, is that the bolstered blood flow was observed not only in the olfactory regions but throughout the brain. This could also help explain the improvement in memory and learning seen in the Nature Medicine paper. The three papers taken together are "like a whole story now," Katsimpardi said.

The Harvard researchers plan to continue work to see whether GDF11 is the sole factor involved in the rejuvenation, or whether it is one of several. "My bet is that there is more than one protein that is going to explain aging," Wagers said.

Bradley Wise, chief of the Neurobiology of Aging Branch at the National Institute on Aging and the administrator of the team's grant, said it's too soon to recommend wholesale transfusion of young human blood into elderly people. He said any treatments derived from this research will likely come from individual blood factors, either administered directly or via pharmaceuticals designed to mimic their effects. "The big question is: What are those factors?" he said.

Tanzi said the three papers mesh well with recent research into the importance of inflammation in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

"The young blood is to some extent curbing inflammation in the body and brain, which is one of the main problems leading to age-dependent deterioration," he said. Taken together, Tanzi added, the new findings are "a game changer for sure."

57 comments
Katya Castro
Katya Castro

Amazing! I wish lots of success to them and hope this study will be a way to give a better quality of life.


LINDA JENKINS
LINDA JENKINS

I can't believe some of the comments on this site.  This is an incredible opportunity to allow our parents an opportunity to age with dignity, with less pain.  My dad suffers pain each day in his shoulders and my Aunt pain in her back.  If my providing plasma or blood can give them any amount of relief from that pain, and also increase their memory capabilities, I would gladly offer that  to them.

We already give blood to infuse into patients during surgery or after a bad accident.  I can't see how this is any different. 



Nitya Mitra
Nitya Mitra

Interesting but not entirely un-expected,That is why the research took place.

The search to identify this protein or proteins will expand.I look forward to

further progress. Thanks to Oracle and NatGeo. sincerely,   Nitya Mitra.

James EartHeart
James EartHeart

i think stitching animals together for 'research purposes' should qualify so-called 'scientific researchers' for incarceration in a mental health rehab facility. it's disgusting that Nat Geo would even give this guy any positive publicity. he doesn't deserve it. 

Avram Goldberg
Avram Goldberg


When you enter the emergency rooms of your hospitals they are ever so quick to hook up the IVs and take blood..............much more than is needed for the supposed "tests" they do.


Yes, we have it planned that way. Only one tiny drop of your blood is needed to place under a microscope or for many of the "tests" conducted, yet we instruct the hospitals to take much more for the hidden experiments we perform.


Neither you nor your families are ever informed about what we really do with all that blood drawn. In fact, we take so much, even from your elderly, that it produces hypovolemia in them and often weakens them to the point of death. 


We care nothing for human life, but only for our own. We have been using your blood, without your knowledge, for centuries. We are the ancient bloodline families that rule over you, and Big Med and Big Pharma do our bidding.

Avram Goldberg
Avram Goldberg

Above and behind the political leaders of the world's most powerful nations, we sit, hidden from the view of the common people. We are ancient bloodlines, ultra-wealthy and elite, and we control the FED and all the largest banks in the world.


We determine when your economies rise and fall. We create housing bubbles and busts. We manipulate the stock market for our own enrichment and your impoverishment. We decide what president will rule over you, and obey us.


We live lives so fabulous, that by comparison, yours are nothing. You cannot even imagine the splendor of our existence. While you struggle to pay your mortgages and put food on the table we jaunt from resort to resort around the world, eat in the finest restaurants, and own multiple sumptuous mansions and yachts.


We are chosen for greatness from birth, groomed in our youth, and finally assume our position of power over you, the unenlightened masses, whose minds we totally control. Actually, we take delight in guiding your weak minds in whatsoever direction we please. You unknowingly obey our dictates and commands, which we often deliver to your minds subtly or subconsciously.


We have been using starfire for many millenia to maintain our youthfulness and enjoy an immense longevity, unknown to the rest of you. We are not pleased that your scientists are getting close to discovering our secrets of physical immortality. We do not wish to share with common ones.

Yes, life is in the blood. And we jealously guard the ultimate secrets to that mystery to keep them from you. We can easily cure many of the diseases you suffer, but do not choose to, preferring depopulation to overpopulation. This has been our plan for centuries, and it is nearing fulfillment. 

We use our Big Pharma operatives to poison you with what you think are healing medicines, but which are, of course horrific toxins with many hideous side effects. We even sometimes post them on the labels of the drugs, and laugh when we see you, in your desperation, take them anyway..............as we make hundreds of billions at your expense.

We spray your atmosphere with chemicals on a regular basis, creating chemtrails that are ever so obvious, but the majority of you are still foolish enough to believe they are harmless vapor trails. Those chemicals precipitate into your bodily systems and affect your health adversely, yet we know you will do nothing, as usual, to stop us.

Compared to us---bold, aggressive, ruthless, cunning, and brilliant---you are weak and spineless, ignorant, and filled with superstitions, which makes you all that much easier to control.

Yes, keep searching for your "fountain of youth," but even if you eventually find it, you will never be equal to us..............the ancient and the chosen, your rulers and lords.





Michael Farkash
Michael Farkash

This is undoubtedly a real game changer. Are we going to see in the near future the development of a totally new discipline in medicine?

CARMEL GATT
CARMEL GATT

THIS IS A REAL BREAKTROUGH, ESPETIALY TO PEAPLE SUFERING FROM ELZAIMERS, OND DIMENSIA.

Mostafa Elsheref
Mostafa Elsheref

Really it is wonderful and will be back to mankind a lot of interest.
Great.

Nicolas Huber
Nicolas Huber

As is often the case with this kind of discovery, the ramifications for both good and evil are almost limitless! 

Shirley Mcclelland
Shirley Mcclelland

This is the most exciting information I have read in many years. My mother had dementia and died four years ago from complications of a broken hip.

Angelina Satarose
Angelina Satarose

Anyone else want to hide their children? Damn.... even vampires have ethics! Humans like this as a whole have no conscious!

Daniel Nieves
Daniel Nieves

In the midleages in some country I read they kills Jews because they though they ate babies,any relation


Din Mohammad
Din Mohammad

Nice study, let us all try to feel young at heart, at least. This may not cost much.

Sharon OBrien
Sharon OBrien

Can't remember the title of the book I read back in the 60's or 70's but as the plot goes, this older couple continually befriended a young couple which would eventually disappear leaving behind a bewildered family. Bottom line the older couple periodically entrapped a young couple with the purpose to feed them healthy food for a while before transfusing the younger blood into their own bodies for rejuvenation purposes.  As needed another young couple would become their victims.  Pretty grizzly possibilities for unscrupulous people out there.  Perish the thought that this becomes a reality.

Avram Davidson
Avram Davidson

Don't worry. By the time this breakthrough is finished only movie stars and politicians will be able to afford it. 

teresa okeefe
teresa okeefe

sounds like a Brother's Grimm fairy tale..... but I'd get in line :-)


Michael Lee
Michael Lee

The implications for people potentially living to 200 or longer are huge.  Already civil conflicts have arisen due primarily to severe drought, including the disaster in Syria.  The situation will only get worse with global warming.  Let's just hope somehow mankind will acquire the collective wisdom to stabilize its population at a much lower lever that that the earth can actually sustain.

Roberts Leinau
Roberts Leinau

 Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep in "Death Becomes Her " [1992] has an interesting humorous take on longevity.

Heidi Behrer-Case
Heidi Behrer-Case

interesting to know what the outcome can be and how it can offer to the medical field there is "hope"

David Rechs
David Rechs

The next step is to isolate the factor(s) responsible.  I'm sure whole blood is not needed.  And whole blood carries extra risks.

First you'd separate Cells from Plasma, chances are the cells are not needed.  Then fraction the plasma until only the valuable factor(s) remain. 


Then you find the least costly method to obtain the factor(s) (synthesis, apheresis, cell culture, etc.)


Finally, you can consider human trials.

Jane Duke
Jane Duke

Very interesting and hope fulfilling articule!

Kevin Starnes
Kevin Starnes

It probably won't be long before medical science creates synthetic blood which will allow people to go in every couple of years for an "oil change" so to speak. Unfortunately, the process will cost significantly more than the $29.99 oil change we pay at Jiffy Lube.

Elaine Stewart
Elaine Stewart

Sure makes you think twice about getting or giving blood. 

Julie HawkOwl
Julie HawkOwl

Nobody is going to abuse this "knowledge," right? Aside from trying to synthesize the protein, there's got to be a better, more responsible way to decrease inflammation! Meditate, reduce sugar, eat less meat, stop poisoning our environment with synthetic chemicals and GMOs...

Wallace Lee
Wallace Lee

It reminds of the 1970 TV seriers "The Immortal".

shovel Driver
shovel Driver

The use of "young blood" to reverse ageing was proposed by Dr. Robert Anson Heinlein in his book "Methuselah's Children, published in 1988.  His description of how it would work is almost word-for-word the same as reported in this discovery.  Imagine that!

There are many such "coincidences" in Dr. Heinlein's writings.  Occurrences such as this are one of the reasons why many hypothesize that Dr. Heinlein had knowledge of the future.  Others say that it's just that he was so influential that many of our best and brightest formed ideas, consciously or unconsciously, after his writings caused a spark.

One of the issues Dr. Heinlein pointed out was "If this requires a constant infusion of new blood, where does it come from?"  Vampirism made real?  In his book, the solution was the timely invention of artificial blood which could be genned up in a lab or factory, then sold, bought, resold, etc.  Talk about cutthroat competition . . .

It's instructive to note that not a few of his books were and still are thought controversial by those who have shortsighted views of humanity's place in the universe.  Back then, when a fledging grade-school reader made his or her first trip to the public library, if they were lucky the librarian pointed them to the sci-fi section where the best books almost always - at that time - had a Baen Books rocketship on the spine.  Many would say that's still one of the best books indicators.  Others seem to believe they are subversive and that may be why they've become so hard to find.  It's always that way when a writer, researcher, scientist - see Galileo - challenges the established order and upsets the Old Boys Club.




Colleen Knapp
Colleen Knapp

Amazing if this really will prolong life (mind/body connection) for those who so choose to live a long time.

Matthew McCombs
Matthew McCombs

Game changer!! I will freeze my blood to keep off the 'Hiemers!

R Culp
R Culp

No wonder vampires are immortal.

Miguel Sanchez
Miguel Sanchez

know wonder the Cuban dictator remains a live inyecting blood  of young people......

Stuart Saunders
Stuart Saunders

"only side effect (not) noticed was premature aging, in the younger mice" ;-)


Was this side effect checked for? Perhaps a compound in the older blood is 'doing it's job' - clearing the planet for newies?

Richard Flemming
Richard Flemming

This is a new study using a different protocol, but not exactly new information. In a study done last year by a group consisting of Harvard Med School, MIT, the National Institutes of Health and UNSW in Sydney, Dr Sinclair (who was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential persons last week) and his colleagues discovered that this protein up regulates a coenzyme called NAD+, or commonly called Mitotrans. A purified form of Mitotrans can be obtained from one company, which I will not name for fear of being accused of promotion, but it is not cheap, around $500 for a course of treatment.

KENNETH LANE
KENNETH LANE

Sick and depraved, with the added bonus of being useless information that I could have supplied had they asked---

Nikhil Kumar
Nikhil Kumar

All ingredients to make a hollywood movie like Matrix where young generation is bred..sort of cultured growth and this being used to keep young some powerful industrial/political group.. where a young Neo raises to release all!

Tom Linton
Tom Linton

You actually believe the rich will not pay some unscrupulous technician to find the right "young" donor and arrange for a repeat transfusion? Since this type of information is in circulation long before any publication, the procedure is likely being done NOW!  Cheers to the filthy rich. Watch out you are not scammed.

Artem Chaykin
Artem Chaykin

@James EartHeart not everyone likes the way the experiments are being conducted but everyone wants to enjoy the results of the discoveries))))

Noreen Phelan
Noreen Phelan

@Avram Goldberg Many of the vials that blood is drawn into contain a preservative of some sort to mix with the blood for that specific test. If the vial is not filled, the blood is not mixed to the proper ratio and renders the test null and void. Where are you getting your facts (if they are truly facts).

anna hotvedt
anna hotvedt

@Colleen Knapp I think the question is not so much living long, as the quality of life. Can you imagine if grandparents who have been confined to nursing homes with dementia and other health problems could recover enough to be independent. Not to mention the cost of keeping this sick old sole alive for years, there is also a huge issues for old people where they lose dignity.

anna hotvedt
anna hotvedt

@Stuart Saunders   Are you saying that they would give the old blood to young people?  When people donate blood it is not replaced, humans just make more new blood.

William DeVore
William DeVore

@Stuart Saunders Actually they did mention that youngh mice given the old blood did worse than other young mice

Maybe we neefd like an oil filter for blood....get rid of the olfd s***, keep the young s***


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