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Heterochronic Parabiosis: Reversing Aging With Young Blood?

Transfusions to older mice cause their hearts and muscles to rejuvenate.

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

August 13, 2014 - 7:30 am
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The dream of rejuvenating the aged by the infusion of young blood is much older than anyone living. It is said that the Scythians thought to make themselves strong by drinking the blood of their enemies killed in battle. And Dracula kept himself youthful by drinking the blood first of young maidens visiting Transylvania and later of maidens in England once he had moved there.

Blood is not the only tissue that has been thought to protect and rejuvenate the elderly. In the 1920s a Franco-Russian surgeon named Serge Voronoff transplanted monkey testes into men (some of them eminent, for example Kemal Ataturk) whose virility had declined, and claimed that it worked. He made a fortune but soon became the object of mockery and scorn, dying in prosperous obscurity in Switzerland in 1951.

There is always an air of charlatanry about those who claim to be able to turn the biological clock back (it is easy to find smooth-talking promoters of recaptured youth on the internet, for example), but a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that some of the old ideas about the rejuvenating qualities of young blood may not have been quite so far-fetched after all. It is early days to proclaim that eternal youth is around the corner, and personally I am not sure I would want it even if it were, but according to the author a technique known as heterochronic parabiosis has retarded or reversed the aging process in mice. It is, of course, some distance from Mouse to Man.

Top Rated Comments   
Just in time for our impending inter-generational war. If sustaining the old with the blood of the young isn't the perfect analogy for our failed Social Security system, I don't know what is.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (7)
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"Voronoff died in prosperous obscurity..."

Not a bad way to go. Better than Tesla, anyway.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
First read a novel more than 40 years ago, where longevity was artificially achieved by blood transfusions. Being from a medical family, I dismissed it then as just a "throw-away" nod to the notions that have been mythical for so many centuries (Bathory, Dracula, the scams of Voronoff and Steinach...).

"Methuselah's Children" by Robert Heinlein. I should have known better, considering the Dean's track record...

Anyone working on producing blood, the real thing, with modern biotech? That would make a heck of a long-term (no pun) investment.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Elizabeth Báthory could not be reached for comment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_B%C3%A1thory
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Elizabeth Bathory WAS a serial killer, but the bathing in blood thing was dreamed up decades after her death.

The takeaway lesson from her monstrous career is the rather obvious one that there should be no such thing as nobility and that no one should be above the law...a lesson we seem to be forgetting.
2 weeks ago
2 weeks ago Link To Comment
Benjamin Button meets Algernon
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well it sounds like a good area for research anyway, surely young blood has other and well-known hormones and factors as well, maybe it takes a cocktail of such factors to avoid side-effects of any one. But I know that researchers hate such combinatorics, of course it makes analysis much tougher.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just in time for our impending inter-generational war. If sustaining the old with the blood of the young isn't the perfect analogy for our failed Social Security system, I don't know what is.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
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