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Biotech Medicine

Transfusions Reverse Aging Effects On Hearts In Mice 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the assuming-it's-not-vampire-fanfic dept.
symbolset writes "Research published yesterday in the journal Cell (abstract) by Richard Lee and Amy Wagers of Harvard has isolated GDF-11 as a negative regulator of age-associated cardiac hypertrophy. 'When the protein ... was injected into old mice, which develop thickened heart walls in a manner similar to aging humans, the hearts were reduced in size and thickness, resembling the healthy hearts of younger mice.' Through a type of transfusion called parabiotic or 'shared circulation' in mice — one old and sick, the other young and well — they managed to reverse this age-associated heart disease. From there, they isolated an active agent, GDF-11, present in the younger mouse but absent in the older, which reverses the condition when administered directly. They are also using the agent to restore other aged/diseased tissues and organs. Human applications are expected within six years. Since the basis for the treatment is ordinary sharing of blood between an older ill, and younger healthy patient, we can probably expect someone to start offering the transfusion treatment somewhere in the world, soon, to those with the means to find a young and healthy volunteer."
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Transfusions Reverse Aging Effects On Hearts In Mice

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:26PM (#43686137)

    Find me the blood of a young boy, Smithers... quickly...

    • Find me the blood of a young boy, Smithers... quickly...

      Actually, wasn't this process central to the plot of a 1950s Vincent Price/Roger Corman film or something like that? Seems like it rings a bell.

      • I remember a TV series from when I was a wee lad, The Immortal [imdb.com]. A guy has something special in his blood that makes him effectively immortal. An old rich dude chases him around to harvest the blood for himself.
    • In other news John McCain has tabled his recent 'a la carte' TV channels bill and is currently drafting legislation for 'a la carte' bloodpacks.
  • Now I know why Vampires live so long!!!
    • How long before we farm transfusions from a donor critter or lab grown spleen vat.

      and in other news Keith Richards.
      • Heh. Heh. And where will you sell your products . . . In the grocery store - near the fruit and vegetables?
      • Never. (Score:3, Insightful)

        How long before we farm transfusions from a donor critter or lab grown spleen vat.

        Never.

        It's a protein. Just splice the appropriate sequence into a plasmid, inject it into an e-coli bacterium (of an "enfeebled" strain to keep it from going feral)), and grow its offspring by the vatload, producing purified product by the gallon.

        This procedure is one of the earliest commercialized pieces of genetic engieering.

        • Can't mass produce it... how else will they charge an arm and leg for it?

          • If they have a patent, they can sell it for any price they want, and total sales will depend upon the monopolistic curve of the elasticity of demand.

            Even then, one hundred million doses for $10 profit each is a thousand millions, or a billion profit. I'd pay $20 bucks for the treatment, and I suspect I could find a few other's who would pay too.

            Microsoft can mass produce windows and office. The incremental cost of producing one more copy of Office is rather low.

            Physical goods? Apple mass produces iPhones

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:28PM (#43686155) Homepage

    I really didn't mean all those things I said about young people.

    You can hang out on my lawn.

    • Your looking a little scruffy there youngster.... Let me show you how we shaved back in my day... whoops, my hand slipped, let me clean that up for you.

      *grabs a straw* [blogspot.com]

      • You know, back in my day vampires meant something. Next thing you know they're all sad and emo. Next they're sparkly and spend eternity hitting on highschool girls. Now they're your grandpa.

        I tell ya. They don't make vampires like they used to.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That blood sacrifices of the young made a come back. They've been out of fashion for much too long...

  • Bad news, Amy! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You are fired. I don't want to get any younger!

    - Professor Farnsworth.

  • ridiculous header (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:36PM (#43686237)

    Sure, they used reverse transfusions to figure out what was going on, but then they isolated the active agent and were able to reproduce the effect with just that. They may continue using reverse transfusions as a research tool, but actual therapies are just going to be pills or shots, probably of chemicals produced by engineered bacteria.

  • Soon the old will be harvesting the young ... awesome!

    Nothing about what happens to the young, healthy mouse. But expect the old and rich to be draining the life essence of the young any time soon now.

    I for one welcome our new life-sucking old-people overlords. ;-)

    I'm not even sure of how many movie/book plots this covers.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      a lot of Vampire ones no doubt - The Hunger [imdb.com] was particularly relevant in that Bowie ends up drained and old which ties in with other comments about potential accelerated ageing of the young donors.

      Very stylish film too, lovingly shot with lots of fabulous lighting.

    • I'm not even sure of how many movie/book plots this covers.

      It probably covers 80% of the Simpsons stories involving Mr. Burns.

  • Effects on donor? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BooMonster (110656) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:41PM (#43686295)

    Hopefully they also monitored effects on the younger mouse. Twould be a shame if people started doing these experiments on humans, and then find out that it accelerates aging in the donor.

  • by Covalent (1001277) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:42PM (#43686305)
    "New, from Almay, our all new hemoceutical line...containing pure bionutrient yb1, found in young and healthy blood. Make your face look up to 10 years younger in just four weeks..."

    "Because you're worth it"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's with cutesy air-quotes.

  • by drunken_boxer777 (985820) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:42PM (#43686315)

    Human applications are expected within six years.

    Ha ha ha no. Sure, perhaps 6 years until the first Phase II clinical trials report safety and proof of concept efficacy. But 6 years until you can go to a clinic and have this done? No way. Drug development takes about a decade.

    But this does sound like an interesting approach.

    • Drug development takes about a decade.

      The vitamin supplement market is unregulated so I'm sure there will be "GDF-11" supplements on the market in less than a year. This is just too good to pass up.

      Will it work? Your guess is as good as mine.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Since it's a natural protein the only way it'll take that long is if it's difficult to synthesize. You'll be able to buy capsules (claiming to be) of this stuff in your health food store any day.

      What takes a long time is figuring out whether the stuff really works or not, which is required before you get to claim that it has an effect without using sneaky language.

  • Can it help with my good AIDS?
  • Can't wait? Buy it online now. Did a Google Shopping search, looks like you can buy the stuff now "for research purposes only", of course.

    Am I going to do it? Hell, no. Too expensive. xD
  • Seriously, science, I love you.
  • Get your iron maiden!
  • by sneezinglion (771733) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:52PM (#43686403)

    Didn't Heinlein predict this as what people did to mimic the Howard families longevity? I think he wrote about it in "Time Enough For Love"

  • I do hereby coin the term Rugenics, courtesy of our Life Sucking friend Count Rugen from the Princess Bride.

    Obligatory YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbgyppGqBgg [youtube.com]
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:03PM (#43686541) Journal

    Maybe the Countess was not so crazy?

  • If this research pans out I doubt GDF-11 is the only factor that can repair damage. While stem cell treatments have not worked well in the past I have to wonder how well this treatment method would work with a clone of yourself. Indeed these lab mice are probably very closely related if not nearly clones. Just to increase the Yuck-Factor here, how about creating therapeutic clones for just this purpose (or any other) by not letting the higher brain develop.
  • by koan (80826)

    Had it right all along.

  • GDF-11 works the same way in humans as it does in mice.
  • by Afty0r (263037) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:21PM (#43686783) Homepage

    Is that Vampirism works?

  • It looks like it's $335 for 10 micrograms... http://www.rndsystems.com/product_results.aspx?m=1508 [rndsystems.com]
  • Paywall (Score:5, Funny)

    by RDW (41497) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:40PM (#43686985)

    For anyone who doesn't subscribe to the journal, here's an interesting extract from the full text, describing early phase human testing of the procedure on a Romanian subject:

    "There lay the Count, but looking as if his youth had been half renewed, for the white hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey; the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath. The mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran down over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were simply gorged with blood. He lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his repletion."

    • RDW wins the Comment Of The Month award.

      • And two of the moderators wins the "dumbass of the week award".

        30% Interesting
        40% Insightful
        30% Funny

        Don't ask me why two of the mods are worth 30% each and the other one is worth 40%. Complain to Slashdot and the problem will get fixed, tomorrow or even sooner.*

        * sorry if I broke anyone's Sarcasm-O-Meter.

  • Blood Trade (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Githaron (2462596) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:40PM (#43686997)

    Since the basis for the treatment is ordinary sharing of blood between an older ill, and younger healthy patient, we can probably expect someone to start offering the transfusion treatment somewhere in the world, soon, to those with the means to find a young and healthy volunteer.

    Volunteer? People give blood because they want to help someone who they usually envision as having a horrible illeness not because they want some rich, old guy to live longer than the norm.

    I think there will more likely be a blood trade where the young (or criminal organ harvesters) sell blood to the old. Either that or some sort of blood Ponzi scheme similar to Social Security where you pay blood in when you are young that is immediately used by the old and recieve blood from the young when you are old. Of course, everything breaks down when the previous generation becomes smaller than they current one. Although, I would not be surprised if by that time there would be synthetic blood that would serve the same purpose.

    • Volunteer? People give blood because they want to help someone who they usually envision as having a horrible illeness

      You don't think heart disease is a horrible illness?

      not because they want some rich, old guy to live longer than the norm.

      Don't think "some rich, old guy." Think "your grandpa."

    • Although this study speculates that GDF-11 is the primary active agent, that information is unknown...

      However, as we have discovered, blood is much more complicated that we think it is. Also, actual testing of blood substitutes on humans has been very controversial (since many have been unsuspecting/uninformed participants). For example, I doubt very many people remember PolyHeme [wikipedia.org]... Here's and interesting snipet from the wiki...

      The testing was completed at more than 25 Level I trauma centers in the United States under a Food and Drug Administration special category (21CFR 50.24) in 1996 that allows its use without patient consent in special circumstances. PolyHeme was the 15th such experiment allowed by the FDA. Although Northfield Laboratories came under scrutiny for this trial, enrollment of the 720 patient trial was completed on July 31, 2006. "Between 2003 and 2006, 720 trauma victims at thirty-two U.S. medical centers were "enrolled" in a research study to determine the efficacy of Polyheme, a patented blood substitute manufactured by Northfield Laboratories". [1]

      The controversy arose from the fact that the participants in this study were incapable of giving their consent due to the nature of their injuries. The only way to opt out from the study was by wearing a special bracelet prior to needing emergency care (the bracelet can be requested by calling 717-531-5829). This practice is sanctioned by the FDA as necessary emergency research, but patients’ rights groups protested the study.

  • In Methuselah's Children, one of the secrets to longevity treatments is transfusions with 'young blood'.

  • Insurance Company's would pay for this. The longer you live, the more money you can pay them. Of course this doesn't resolve Cancer and other ailments you will no doubt catch. The longer you live, the more likely you are to die from some deadly decease. It's Natures way of ridding the World of your vile ways, you will never live forever, no matter how much teenage blood you absorb.

    Embrace reality, you are going to die and there is nothing you can do about it.

    • by slew (2918)

      Insurance Company's would pay for this. The longer you live, the more money you can pay them.

      Actually, I doubt it. The longer you live, the more likely you would be to experience an expensive condition which they would have to pay for. Insurance companies would ideally want you to pay whilst you are healthy and then die immediatly after contracting any expensive condition (before they have to pay too much). Chronic conditions where you continue to toil on and pay premiums lower than the cost to the company are probably the worst for insurance companies (although conversely it is the "best" case

    • by tftp (111690)

      Embrace reality, you are going to die and there is nothing you can do about it.

      Depends on what do you mean by "you." If your mind is copied into a machine (and possibly replicated) then you (as an independent, thinking person) can live infinitely long. Cloned bodies are less sturdy, but they will work too.

  • by Hartree (191324) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:45PM (#43687037)

    We've found an awful lot of candidate treatments that work well in mice that work poorly or not at all in humans.

  • There's a bit of a caveat. Will old atherosclerotic arteries be able to supply the oxygen that young healthy myocardial tissue demands?
    • Only one way to find out. Now that would be one interesting human experiment, easy too. Old blood sure as hell wont make you old but young blood might make you younger(sort of). Blood transfusions are banned in sports as doping for a reason. It would be really interesting to know results of circular transfusions between very young and very old subjects. You could probably make use of some coma patients that are destined to pulling the plug anyway.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Old blood could very well make you old. As a simple example, if the old person's kidneys weren't working well, hooking up your circulatory system to his would make your kidneys work harder. Same with the liver, heart, endocrine glands....

      • Yes, blood doping is banned in sports, but why not permit it for normal use? Most other doping, too. Lance was only cheating because he was competing; if I could get healthier and stronger, rather than getting older and finding out why grandma used to complain about her arthritis, I'd take the same stuff. No, make it a double.
  • She would approve.

    Jha'Dur (Deathwalker): You will fall upon one another like wolves. The billions who live forever will be a testimony to my work, and the billions that are murdered to provide that immortality will be the continuance of that work. That will be my monument!

    (I don't think that, but the parallel was just too good to pass up. :)

  • Parents could likely live longer with their children if their children hook themselves up to their parents to help reverse the aging process.

    And you wonder why family communities do so well versus fuck you, got mine communities.

  • Elizabeth Báthory [wikipedia.org] actually had it right??

  • by Khashishi (775369)

    It seems every week we manage to extend the life of mice or rats, but it never makes its way to humans.

  • The original experiment proved that an old rat's heart problems can be solved by a constant transfusion from a young rat, right?

    So the logical next step is to see if an old man's heart problems can be solved by a constant transfusion from a young rat?

    Well, a man is bigger than a rat, so you probably need a lot of young rats. Let's try it with say 50.

    So, know picture in your mind, an old man, connected by blood transfusions from 50 rats kept in tiny little cages.

    I bet you can make it mobile - so lets

  • Quick, bring me a couple of young virgins.
  • Better be nice to your off-spring. All the years they took off with their juvenile antics and incessant noise they may pay back later if they like you.

  • I remember reading similar research in the 1980s. Biologist Remy Chauvin was observing rejuvenating effects of transfusions in animals and trying to generate interest for seriously studying and understanding the phenomenon. The ossified "scientific community" laughed him out of the room. He was very bitter about it because he knew he was up to something.

    Even if this doesn't translate into a fountain of youth, this is still a major scientific breakthrough.

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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