Sunday, May 11, 2014
More Evidence That Youthful Blood Can Reverse The Effects Of Aging
Via Disclose.tv: A few years ago, scientists from Stanford discovered that it's possible to reverse cognitive decline in old mice by injecting them with the blood of the young. Now, researchers have isolated the mechanism responsible for this rejuvenation — and it's a protein that's found in humans as well. Back in 2012, when Stanford University scientist Saul Villeda showed that young blood has rejuvenating qualities, he wasn't entirely sure how it reversed the effects of cognitive decline — but he suspected that it has something to do with the limited production of stem cells as we get older. Could injecting yourself with blood of the young reverse the aging process? Could injecting yourself with blood of the young reverse the aging process? Two independent research papers, one from Harvard and one from Stanford, are reporting that injections of a protein, or growth factor, known as GDF11 is capable of rejuvenating a number of seemingly unrelated physiological aspects. The Harvard study, which now appears in Science, used the protein to improve the exercise capability and skeletal muscle function of mice (tests showed improvements in recovery from muscle injury, along with improved performance on running and grip strength tasks). The Stanford researchers showed that the transfusions encouraged the growth of new blood vessels and improved the function of the olfactory region of the brains of older mice, allowing them to detect smells just as well as younger mice. The injected mice were also shown to perform better on memory tests than mice of the same age that hadn't received the youthful blood plasma. Previously, GDF11 was shown to make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young healthy mice. As noted, humans have this protein, too. According to Amy Wagers and Lee Rubin of Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), barring unexpected developments, they expect to have GDF11 in human clinical trials within three to five years. The goal is to develop interventions that treat neurodegnerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. In a prepared statement, HSCRB co-chair Doug Melton said that he couldn't recall a more exciting finding to come from stem cell science and clever experiments. This should give us all hope for a healthier future. 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: the higher levels of the protein GDF11 we have when young.