The Quest for Eternal Youth: Examining the Science and Ethics Behind Blood Transfusions for Anti-Aging

  From the European aristocrats in ancient times to the American rich in modern society, there have been many people who regard blood plasma as the “fountain of youth”. Blood obsessives believe that by continually ingesting the blood of young people, the dying old can be rejuvenated.
  It’s a real-life “Vampire Diaries” story that’s been in the news recently. On May 23, local time in the United States, in order to prove the existence of “rejuvenation”, Brian Johnson, a super rich man in Silicon Valley and a technology entrepreneur, used his own body, the body of his 17-year-old son Tallmadge and his 70-year-old father Richard De’s body, together with three generations of blood exchange experiments.
  As soon as the news came out, it caused huge controversy. Supporters praised his courage to openly conduct human experiments, while opponents denounced it as a Satanist practice of using minors as “blood children”. In the midst of all the turmoil, the eternal core concern of such issues lies in whether blood exchange can really exchange for youth?

“Evidence” of blood anti-aging

  In 1604 AD, a terrible rumor was circulating in the Kingdom of Hungary: Over the years, the 50-year-old Countess Bathory Elizabeth had trapped and killed 589 daughters of surrounding farmers, trying to save herself by showering or drinking the girl’s blood. beautiful face.
  The Countess was sentenced to life in prison after local officials stepped in to investigate. According to legend, the countess, who was originally as beautiful as a flower, aged at an alarming rate after she was imprisoned, and died in just four years. When guards found her body, she was sallow and wrinkled, shrunken to the size of a child.
  The supply of young blood can delay aging, and it seems to have found the first “factual footnote” from here. At the same time, the European medical field also opened the curtain of experimental verification.
  In 1615, the German physician Andreas Libafius first began to preach the potential of blood, proposing to connect the arteries of the old to those of the young to prove it. However, the available information cannot show whether he actually carried out this doomed experiment afterwards.
  By 1660, the Royal Society of London started the first blood transfusion practice. The experimental subjects at that time were those who hoped to achieve the goal of prolonging life through blood exchange. In the early days, blood transfusions were equally deadly due to a lack of understanding of blood types and how clotting factors work, so it was soon banned.
  For the next century, blood transfusion research stagnated. When medicine advances, allowing it to return, the focus of the quest shifts to healing the sick rather than rejuvenating.
  Today, blood transfusions are a safe medical practice, but blood remains a mysterious liquid. Along the arteries, veins and capillaries of the circulatory system, blood travels 96,000 kilometers as a carrier, transporting more than 700 kinds of proteins and other substances in the human body. Among them, the effects of many substances are still unsolved scientific mysteries.
  However, in 2014, 400 years after the death of the Countess of Hungary, in a TED talk at Stanford University in the United States, neurology professor Tony Weiss Corey declared: “Infusion of young blood into the elderly can indeed make them Rejuvenate.”

  Although blood transfusions have become a safe medical procedure, blood remains a mysterious liquid.

  His argument comes from the famous series of experiments on conjoined symbiosis in mice. In 1864, French biologist Paul Bott reported for the first time an unusual surgical operation: he successfully constructed a “heterogeneous” blood circulation system in which capillaries interpenetrate between two mice of different ages.
  By 1956, when Cliff McRae of Cornell University in New York repeated the operation, he found that in two mice connected by blood vessels, the old one’s articular cartilage quickly became much younger—aging seemed to be replaced by reversed.
  In 2005, biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, and his wife, the Conbos, took over the research baton and launched a controlled trial. It turned out that the old mice connected to the older mice did not regain their vitality, and only the young mice could bring the miraculous effect of returning to health for the old mice (aging reversal of 54%), at the expense of accelerated aging of the young mice .
  In this regard, the transfer of vitality has indeed been artificially realized to some extent. After the academic journal “Nature” published this “rejuvenation” achievement, the medical community was shocked, and the media reported that scientists had found the “fountain of youth”.
Desire to continue life, Silicon Valley can’t wait

  Why can young blood achieve anti-aging growth? Currently, there is no clear answer. One possible explanation is that during the aging process, the living body accumulates more harmful substances, and young blood can play a diluting role; there is also a hypothesis that the blood serves as a medium for delivering nutrients to all organs and renovates them, It is equivalent to taking “Shiquan Dabu Dan”.
  Regardless of the mechanism of action, it has become a consensus that blood is closely related to aging. Once the “Pandora’s Box” was opened, the need to apply this discovery to humans began to surge.
  Corey said that they have carried out human experiments, but not on humans. First, the researchers proved that changing the vascular conjoined surgery into blood transfusion, the blood of young mice can also make the brains of old mice have anatomical improvement, and cognitive improvement. The improvement of the ability; moreover, the blood serum of young humans was used to infuse old mice, and the effect was still very good.

  It seems that the “rejuvenating substances” that young mice have are also present in the blood of young humans. So the research was dramatically advanced: In October 2014, Kerui established the Alkahest (universal solution) company and launched a clinical trial: 18 patients with Alzheimer’s disease were transfused with plasma from healthy young people. He hopes to judge the safety and effectiveness of blood transfusion anti-aging therapy by evaluating the recovery of typical symptoms such as patients’ cognition.
  But scientists are still in the process of rigorous and detailed demonstration, and Silicon Valley can’t wait to start selling this medical achievement that is still in the stage of animal experiments.
  Since 2010, a group of American start-up companies have begun to provide “young blood” services, the most famous of which is Ambrosia (immortal). On its website, people can easily buy blood or serum implants of young people aged 16-25 to “solve a range of geriatric problems” (such as Parkinson’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, etc.), a blood transfusion It was priced around $8,000.

  Although this service was described by the British “Daily Mail” as “a horror method like a vampire”, after opening, the number of male customers has been increasing-the age ranges from 30 to 90 years old, and the number is 60 years old. Mainly.
  Why can a “risky therapy” that has not yet undergone sufficient human trials be openly used in the United States?
  On the one hand, blood transfusion, as a medical method that is now very safe, has become a routine therapy. On the other hand, “exchanging blood and renewing life” is a new thing, and laws and regulations do not have any corresponding regulations and standards to regulate it.
  Those who intend to commercialize young blood take advantage of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and these profit-seeking companies are not limited to start-up companies such as Ambrosia, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and high-level hospitals all want to get a piece of it . After all, a large number of Silicon Valley tycoons are spending a lot of money, eager to make “stealing youth from young people” no longer just a metaphor.
  According to “Time Magazine”, Oracle co-founder, 73-year-old Larry Ellison funded Ambrosia’s research on “age reversal” technology; It costs $40,000 a season to get young blood from an 18-year-old.
  And Brian Johnson, who has recently jumped into the public eye at the beginning of this article, before taking blood from his son, the medical team he built at an annual cost of 2 million US dollars had already included plasma exchange in his maintenance plan.
  The anonymous donor, whom Johnson dubbed “the boy who donated blood”, was required to maintain an ideal weight and implement a healthy lifestyle in addition to ensuring good health in order to be able to “use” for a long time.
  When capital feeds the “medical vampireism” that sells lives, Silicon Valley, which abuses the blood of young people to try to reverse aging, seems to be a hotbed for the birth of new horror stories.
Rejuvenation is still far away

  The very nature of these behaviors, including the use of blood transfusions to seek anti-aging, is to combat deep-rooted anxiety about death, says biochemist Charles Brenner of City of Hope National Medical Center in Los Angeles.
  This existential phobia drives blood obsessives to bypass medicine and explore unorthodox approaches to perpetual youth.
  Indeed, at present, scientists and ethicists all hold a negative attitude towards the operation of exchanging blood with swords and slant fronts.
  Corey, who successfully conducted the first human trial in 2018, is a supporter of the theory of rejuvenation, but he also insists on a cautiously optimistic attitude that must pass rigorous clinical demonstrations. There is no design.
  In this regard, the other party’s response was that if the experimenters were told that what they spent so much money in return might be a placebo, then no one would be stupid enough to participate. The demand for huge profits and the non-selection of participants are the key points for scientists and doctors to criticize Ambrosia and his like. Some people even question that those who advocate blood exchange are deceiving.
  Matt Cabelian, a biologist who studies aging at the University of Washington, directly criticizes these so-called human experiments as science. After all, regardless of Ambrosia’s case or Johnson, who uses himself as a “living sign”, there is a logical trap of using individual cases instead of generalities-this can also explain why Ambrosia chose to be at the annual Silicon Valley event Code Conference (Code 2017) in May 2017. Conference), not in medical conferences or journals.
  In addition to many scholars criticizing the rationality of the so-called research of commercial exchange transfusion therapy, there are also doubts about its safety. Steven Novella, a professor of medicine at Yale University, once wrote that human patients have a high probability of rejection when receiving blood from others, which may cause cancer; and in the mouse experiment, the appearance of “rejuvenation” may also be stimulated by young blood and stimulated by aging organs. “Back to the light”, whether the reversal of life is sustainable has not been demonstrated at all.

  A large number of Silicon Valley tycoons are spending a lot of money, eager to make “stealing youth from young people” no longer just a metaphor.

  In addition, the Kangbo couple, who have conducted the “blood replacement” experiment, suggested avoiding unnecessary blood transfusions that cause side effects that are currently unknown in medicine.
  In May 2017, Ambrosia announced that none of the experimenters experienced side effects. But only a month later, when a reporter from the British “New Scientist” magazine visited, he happened to witness an experimenter from Moscow having an allergic reaction: after receiving a blood transfusion, the person’s face and tongue were swollen, and a rash covered his entire body , Even the whites of the eyes are red.
  In the face of doubts, Ambrosia had no choice but to say that this was not the first case of complications. There had been cases of eyelid rash and pneumonia before, but refused to disclose more information. Since Ambrosia has not released data to the outside world, the public still lacks sufficient awareness of the potential risks of exchange transfusion therapy.
  By February 2019, the FDA finally responded to the raging commercial blood transfusion behavior: “Consumers are strongly advised not to buy ‘young blood’ products, because the efficacy and side effects of this product are still unknown.” In 2018, it was
  also Ambrosia, which is ambitious to open 6 branch clinics across the United States, finally stopped their business of selling young blood on February 20, 2019. But we have also seen that there are still people who are obsessed with longevity and are “successful”.
  There is a long and difficult gap between scientific research and commercial products. Whether the mystery of youth in blood exists is still to be explored, but in any case, this cannot be reduced to a big hype.

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