Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, announced they were able to stimulate age-reversing effects in mice by diluting the blood plasma of old mice. The team found that replacing half of the blood plasma in mice with a mixture of saline and albumin where the albumin replaces protein that was lost when the original blood plasma was removed had rejuvenation effects on the brain, liver, and muscle of old mice.
The team says that the rejuvenation effects were the same or stronger than when pairing older mice with young mice, or by blood exchange. The team says it performing the same procedure on young mice had no judgmental effects on health. Researchers say that the discovery shifts the dominant model of rejuvenation away from young blood and towards the benefits of removing age-elevated, and potentially harmful factors in old blood.
Researchers say that there are two main interpretations from the experiments, with one being that rejuvenation in conjoined mice was due to young blood, and young proteins are factors that diminish with age. However, an equally possible alternative is that with age, there are elevations of certain proteins in the blood that become detrimental and that the proteins are removed or neutralized by the young partners. The research shows that dilution of old blood is sufficient to reverse some aging in mice.
In humans, the compositional blood plasma can be altered in a clinical procedure called therapeutic plasma exchange or plasmapheresis. This process is currently FDA approved in the US for treating autoimmune disease. Currently, researchers are finalizing clinical trials to determine if a modified plasma exchange in humans can be used to improve the overall health of older people and treat age-associate diseases such as muscle wasting, neurodegeneration, type 2 diabetes, and immune system degradation.
Scientists note that therapeutic plasma exchange in humans lasts about two or three hours and comes with no or mild side effects. Clinical trials the team plans to conduct will allow them to better understand how the therapeutic blood exchange might be best applied to treating human ailments associated with aging.