New blood 'recharges old brain', mouse study suggests

Lab mouse Could the elixir of youth be a substance found in blood?

Related Stories

Researchers in the US say they might have discovered how to combat and even reverse some processes of ageing, at least in mice.

Injecting the blood of young mice into older rodents boosted their brainpower, a study found.

Scientists at Stanford University plan to carry out trials in people in the hope that new treatments for dementia can be developed.

A UK dementia research charity said the human significance was unknown.

Start Quote

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”

End Quote Dr Tony Wyss-Coray Stanford University School of Medicine

In the study, published in Nature Medicine, mice aged 18 months were given injections of the fluid part of blood (plasma) taken from mice aged three months.

The injected mice performed better on memory tests than mice of the same age that had not been given blood plasma.

"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," said Dr Tony Wyss-Coray of Stanford University School of Medicine.

"We're working intensively to find out what those factors might be and from exactly which tissues they originate."

He said it was not known whether the same was true in humans, but a clinical trial was planned.

Alzheimer's Research UK said the treatment rejuvenated certain aspects of learning and memory in mice, but was "of unknown significance to humans".

"This research, while very interesting, does not investigate the type of cognitive impairment that is seen in Alzheimer's disease, which is not an inevitable consequence of ageing," said Dr Eric Karran, director of research at the charity.

Muscle boost

Meanwhile, two studies by a separate team have shed more light on how young blood may benefit the old, in mice at least.

Old and young A small clinical trial in humans could take place in the future
The blood vessels of old mice were rejuvenated (Image: Lida Katsimpardi) The blood vessels of old mice were rejuvenated (Image: Lida Katsimpardi)

A substance in the blood of mice previously shown to have an anti-aging effect on heart muscle, also boosted brain cells, according to a Harvard team.

The research, published in Science, found the blood factor encouraged the growth of brain cells in old mice, and restored their sense of smell.

The same chemical also boosted muscle power in aged mice, the researchers found.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    @79: Don't need a permanent effect, just enough till the next fix. @75 the effect in related research at least have reported benefits for muscles and hearts too and search for other effects are under investigation, as since as more positive effects are observed, even more are likely? (See Science Journal stories)

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    With all that is going on in the world, this is one of the few things HYS is allowing us to comment on. Pathetic. One up from skateboarding ducks, I suppose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Easiest way to reduce dimentia etc is to reduce lifespan & not increase it.

    Extending life has many negative domino effect consequences that are increasingly financially unsustainable to fund, without loss of finances in other areas which add to quality of life.

    1st area of cuts are recreation, especially for young & also for elderly & disabled, also cut to fund fat peoples self neglect

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.


  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    While interesting do we really need to do it just because we can? If it cures Dementia then it`s a worthy pursuit, but just to stop people aging?

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Don't tell the Government or they'll have us working until we're 80.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    See where the drug companies are pouring money into. If the elixir of life is found, they know the rich people will clamber for it, while the quality of life for the rest of us will continue to fall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    @72: 'If mice are so like us, why do we kill them?' - The mice are used to model of ageing in mammals, including people. To be useful, a model must simplify to provide a basic understanding: a model is pointless if it duplicates the complexity of the modelled phenomenon. Also, mice have a shorter lifespan than most mammals, so it is easier to study their ageing process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    what are you talking about ? @59 makes a wholly valid point and doesn't appear to have made a fallacious argument.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I wondered why I keep having sudden urges for cheese sandwiches, Have people been secretly filling my brain with Mouse blood?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    If this research is indeed true, the benefits might only last a couple of days max and then what? - Everything would return to normal again when the donated blood cells die out. I find it hard to believe that this could do any permanent good- and I think most people would agree that having people effectively 'addicted' to blood is in no way helpful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.


    We can slow the onsett of age related health problems!

    Now we can work you till you're 90.......




  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    This is not new news!
    Vlad the Impaler had this sussed years ago , then Dracula carried it a stage further. Now Cameron took it further and sucks the blood from our youth by allowing zero contracts for employers. There is a rumour their even using the plasma for flat scream TV's!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    So that's the start of a 100 horror films right there !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    59. trickcyclist
    This is not research into prolonging life. It is research into prolonging the mental capabilities
    I think you've reductioed ad absurdum. How can it have no non-positive effect on lifespan unless we research ways of making other body parts wear out faster with the intention of preserving the current estimated time of departure?

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    This article should also mention the related discovery of the effect of GDF11 also reported in the journal Science as a protein that has been identified to promote rejuvenating effects in heart, brain and muscles and that occurs in greater concentration in young than on old.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Remarkably similar to the plot line for Countess Dracula.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    If mice are so like us, why do we kill them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I like the upside the video takes about young generation 'helping' the older generation, but isn't exploitation more likely (cf that old sci film, coma for example). If I was a old millionaire, imagine the temptation of all the powerless youngsters of the world, the human traffiking. Even keep a few locked up and sedated as live doners as required...

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    20. geneboy

    I hugely dislike the exorbitant cost of accessing the article for general members of the public. If all articles were open access (free to everyone), maybe people might take a more active interest in science


    From many of the comments on this and other HYS it's obvious that a great many people are incapable of reading and understanding a few paragraphs of simple text!


Page 4 of 8


More Health stories


Features & Analysis

BBC Future

(Caitlin McNeill)

Do we all see the same colours?

Intriguing science behind #TheDress


  • A bicycle with a Copenhagen WheelClick Watch

    The wheel giving push bikes an extra boost by turning them into smart electric hybrids

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.