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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 @12:31PM (#43686193)

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

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • Never. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday May 10, 2013 @07:55PM (#43690753) Journal

    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.

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