It appears Dracula may have been onto something when he drank the blood of young maidens.
Scores of start-ups have been tinkering with transfusions of blood from younger adults to treat age-related diseases.
But a leading geneticist at University College London insists those experiments are no joke, and are seriously considered by leading physicians to be one of the most promising ventures in modern medicine.
Publishing an analysis of data in the journal Nature, Dame Linda Partridge, a geneticist, says research shows young blood could allow humans to live a life free of diseases like cancer, dementia and heart disease, right up until their deaths.
Her work forms part of a wave of studies and trials, including a set of human trials backed by Peter Thiel at a San Francisco start-up called Ambrosia, injecting older adults with young blood – something that would cost $8,000 if it were rolled out to the public.
Older people given transfusions of blood from younger adults are at a lower risk of cancer, dementia and heart disease, new research shows
Professor Partridge’s study showed older mice given young blood did not develop age-related diseases and maintained sharp cognitive function, while younger ones given older blood saw the opposite effect.
It’s proof, she says, that blood needs to be more closely studied in animals to identify the molecules that conserve physical health.
‘Identification of these is a high priority for research,’ the study says.
‘The practical accessibility of both the human microbiome and blood system makes therapeutic manipulation a particularly attractive approach, but research in animals is needed to establish the long-term consequences and possible side effects.’
Professor Partridge and her co-authors Joris Deelen and P. Eline Slagboom add: ‘[B]lood is the most practically accessible and therefore the most com-monly investigated tissue, but it is much less commonly used in animal studies.
‘It will be important to develop blood-based biomarkers of risk, ageing hallmarks and responses to candidate interventions in animals.’
Theirs is hardly the first study to show such an effect.
The Ambrosia trials involved 70 participants. All of those involved were at least 35 and had paid $8,000 (£6,200) to be part of the experiment out of their own pocket.
They were given plasma – the main component of blood – from volunteers aged between 16 and 25.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUNG BLOOD?
Various studies have shown the benefits of receiving transfusions of young blood.
University of California at Berkeley scientists in November found ‘vampire therapy’ can repair muscle tissue.
They also showed it had benefits for both the liver and brain after only 24 hours.
In the same month, Alkahest, a company based in, reported similar findings during trials of young human blood on older mice.
They found it improved the rodents’ cognition, allowing them to frolic about like their younger counterparts.
Stanford University experts had already shown the same findings in identical studies three years earlier, but using younger mice blood instead.
Researchers noted improvements in biomarkers of various major diseases, also known of indicators for certain conditions.
This included a 10 percent reduction in blood cholesterol, of which high levels are known to lead to heart disease.
Other effects noted by the scientists were a 20 percent reduction in proteins called carcinoembryonic antigens.
These can be seen in high quantities in people who have various forms of cancer, the website reports, but it remains to be seen whether.
The younger blood also helped to slash amyloid protein levels, which forms toxic clumps in the brains of dementia patients, by a fifth.
In particular, one 55-year-old patient with early onset Alzheimer’s began to show improvements in his condition after just one transfusion.
Another, slightly older woman with more severe Alzheimer’s pathology is showing similar improvements, the start-up reported.
The scientists at Ambrosia envision a world in which elderly people receive two injections a year.
However, he hinted it’s possible some of the effects of could have been imagined by those who were desperate to see results after paying so much.
Scientists have long studied the effects of young blood on animals, but have come across a mixed bag of results.
Previous US research has suggested that the blood from human umbilical cords could be the key ingredient for a ‘fountain of youth’ drug.
The Stanford University team discovered a protein found with the plasma can reverse the effects of age-related mental decline.
However, experts at The Ottawa Hospital made a much different finding last July. They noted how blood donations from young women may be linked to poorer survival rates in recipients.
THOSE WHO SWORE BY THE GRUESOME TREATMENT…
One was a fictional character believed to be based on a real-person, the other was the former revolutionary leader of North Korea.
The idea of young blood being able to reverse ageing was first touted in the gothic fantasy books about Dracula.
The feared vampire survived solely on fresh human blood, which reversed his ageing process by giving him power.
Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong-un the current dictator of North Korea, was another who swore by the method.
His former doctor claimed that he would take blood transfusions from men and women in their 20s in his attempt to live to 100.
It was also revealed that he would spend hours watching children playing in his desperate attempts at reaching triple figures.
But his efforts were in vain. He died in 1994 at the age of 84, two years after his personal doctor defected to South Korea.