‘Young blood’: Here’s how a plasma infusion could ward off bone brittleness, increase lifespan and reverse aspects of aging

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Credit: Martin Schutt/AP
Credit: Martin Schutt/AP

[I]n the past two decades, the idea of blood as an elixir of youth has leapt from the pages of storybooks and ancient folklore into the medical mainstream, with high-profile papers demonstrating the regenerative capacity of young blood in aged mice. Those have also led to the launch of several new biotech start-ups that aim to combat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and other diseases of aging by revitalizing our most essential of bodily fluids.

Conceptually, the therapeutic strategies of… two front-runner start-ups could not be further apart. On the one extreme is Elevian’s reductionist approach, which attempts to recapitulate the benefits of young blood through supplementation with a single pro-youthful factor. On the other is Alkahest’s plasma formulations, created by pooling blood from multiple young donors and then sorting the contents to remove unwanted immune molecules.

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“It’s probably not a single factor that drives aging or a single factor that can rejuvenate tissues,” says [molecular biologist] Paul Robbins… “It’s going to have to eventually be a cocktail of things that people take,” he says — but finding the ingredients that should go into that cocktail, and then creating relevant therapeutics, remains a tall order.

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