New blood 'recharges old brain', mouse study suggests

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

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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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    119Fishermans Enemy You say "People claiming they'd rather not live until XX age not sitting watching telly in a dull room etc..should look at people like the late John Dxxxxx. He was 98, and even into his mid 90's he was walking the streets"
    Boy!!!!...I hope I'm still not... 'walking the streets'... at that age
    PS...Come the day after the 2015 Election there'll be lots of bloodletting

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    My guess is that with the correct stem cell engineering, this effect can be created without needing to harvest blood from young people. Stem cell research has come a long way. It is the wave of the future. Instead of taking drugs to avoid symptoms of diseases, we will get stem cell therapy to cure those diseases. If you own stem cell stock when this happens . . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    In medieval Europe aging Countess Elizabeth Bathory found washing in the blood of young girls made her young again.

    True story :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Didn't Mr Burns discover this 10 years ago when he injected himself with Bart Simpson's blood? Matt Groening should get the Nobel prize for this and not those doing derivative work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    be prepared for some tory vampires then , nothing is sacred to those evil people

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    @77 flexible working practises have kept unemployment incredibly low during Labour's recession. Without open EU borders our youth would have even more job opportunities - thank Labour again. Prefer iron clad employee rights, inflexible contracts, hard core socialism and 50% youth unemployment instead?.. then go to Spain, France etc.. you can't have it both ways my friend

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Lance Armstrong knew this years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Countess Bathory, anyone.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Dear clever science types.
    Any chance that the scope this wonderful new line of research could possibly include not only ‘old’ brain cells, but also ‘unbelievably stupid’ brain cells??? No shortage of case studies! Just look thru this and many previous negatively rated HYS postings for examples of prime imbecility.
    Yours etc…

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Speaking personally and in complete confidence to you only never to be revealed but...
    ....I keep a portrait in the attic...
    ...have done for the past 123 years...

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    People claiming they'd rather not live until XX age, not sitting watching telly in a dull room etc.. should look at people like the late John Dobson. He was 98, and even into his mid 90's, he was walking the streets getting people to look through his telescope for free.

    There are exceptions but generally, Life is what you make it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    111. notrub

    Being a vampire really sucks.

    13. Mrs Vee

    We try to extend human life because we can. If I could live a healthy and productive life into my 100s I would certainly go for it. I would have to change career though. Being a teacher is not how I want to spend the next 40 years having done 40 years already.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    @115 Mike you're missing the point like many that living even a little longer might still prove dividends if you survive long enough for the next longevity boost development in a climate of exponentially increasing discovery...

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Old Brain would like to meet Young Blood for friendship and possibly more...

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    You people going on about ageing population et cetera do realise this is about combating dementia, aka extending the length of a persons mentally healthy life, this research won't make people live much longer, but it could help with improving the time that people have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Alchemy.. nocuous,vacuous Boondoggle
    Medieval belief in 'humours' and the Victorians 'knightly' pursuit of the 'elixir of life'
    Smile twice a day at someone...
    Do a good deed for an INDIVIDUAL every week or a REAL physical and/or financial cost to oneself.
    This is what will 'keep you young' be it smooth or wrinkled
    When you die you will know you have had a rich and fulfilling life

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    I hope I still have some working brain cells to rejuvenate when this ...................................... treatment becomes avaiable.
    There is nothing more annoying than forgetting something just before you are going to say it and then 2-3 minutes later remember what you were going to say.
    Put my name down for the clinical trials.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    @110 And if you could take a pill instead that promoted your strength, stamina and intellect to be independent in your old age instead? Because that's what this research promises for everyone even if only supported by desperate old rich people in the short term.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Yup - as every vampire knows, you can't beat the blood of a fresh young virgin for beating off old age.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Couldn't agree more with Mrs V (#13). No way I'd want to go on, stuck in a chair in some "home", surrounded by others like me, some of them suffering from dementia, all fed on rubbish, possibly abused by " carers" and drugged into oblivion by " doctors" keeping me alive because they can making money out of visiting me and injecting me with the blood of others.


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