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Anti-Aging Start-Up Is Charging Thousands of Dollars for Teen Blood (vanityfair.com) 243

An anonymous reader writes: A startup called Ambrosia is charging about $8,000 a pop for blood transfusions from people under 25, Jesse Karmazin said at Code Conference. Ambrosia, which buys its blood from blood banks, now has about 100 paying customers. Some are Silicon Valley technologists, like Thiel, though Karmazin stressed that tech types aren't Ambrosia's only clients, and that anyone over 35 is eligible for its transfusions. Karmazin was inspired to found Ambrosia after seeing studies researchers had done involving sewing mice together with their veins conjoined. Some aspects of aging, one 2013 study found, could be reversed when older mice get blood from younger ones, but other researchers haven't been able to replicate these results, and the benefits of parabiosis in humans remains unclear. "I think the animal and retrospective data is compelling, and I want this treatment to be available to people," Karmazin told the MIT Technology Review.
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Anti-Aging Start-Up Is Charging Thousands of Dollars for Teen Blood

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  • by lobiusmoop ( 305328 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:47AM (#54534549) Homepage

    It's Bram Stoker spining is his grave.

  • No Blood For You! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:48AM (#54534555)

    You plebs better hope your not in an accident and need a blood transfusion cause the rich will be cutting into the already short supply!

    Are they going to start bathing in milk again too?

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:48AM (#54534559) Homepage

    ... Peter Thiel would be a real-life vampire would actually explain a lot.

    • ... Peter Thiel would be a real-life vampire would actually explain a lot.

      Peter Thiel has funded research into using blood for anti-aging. There is no evidence that he has had any transfusions himself. TFA's claim that he has is just made up BS.

  • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:48AM (#54534561)
    Why isn't the FDA shutting this down.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:57AM (#54534669)

      Why isn't the FDA shutting this down.

      Because thanks to Orin Hatch (R-Utah) the burden of proof is on the FDA. Meaning, THEY will have to do the studies and THEY have to prove that the claims are bogus. Now, with this administration that considers all government regulation to be BAD and its knack for cutting budgets willy-nilly, do you honestly think the FDA will tackle this?

      And the claims are so outrageous, the cost is $8,000 - well,, I see the only people doing this are very wealthy who can throw away $8,000 and not miss it and very gullible people.

      On another note, when you start seeing outrageous things like this that cost a lot of money, I'm inclined to think we are at a peak of an economic cycle. Maybe even a bubble (I wouldn't go that far myself).

      A fool and his money ....

      • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @10:12AM (#54534805) Journal
        My objection is that blood transfusions are a significant disease vector and should only be done when necessary.
        • But these people are dying (everybody is). Assuming the claims are true, what is the risk vs reward for having the procedure?

        • My objection is that blood transfusions are a significant disease vector and should only be done when necessary.

          "My objection is that __________ is risky and should only be done when necessary."

          Fill in the blank with "blood transfusion", "sex", "SCUBA diving", "motorcycle riding", "parachuting", "surfing", "skiing", etc.

          Why don't you keep your nose out of other people's business and stop "objecting" to their activities or tell them what they should or should not do?

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        Seems odd they can regulate strictly medical devices, but wackos performing medical procedures can do whatever they want.
      • Why isn't the FDA shutting this down.

        Because thanks to Orin Hatch (R-Utah) the burden of proof is on the FDA. Meaning, THEY will have to do the studies and THEY have to prove that the claims are bogus.

        Which is as it should be.

        Otherwise you have a government agency responsible for any failure of safety regulations, but no burden of cost for implementing those regulations.

        And thus it costs $2.5 billion [google.com] to bring a drug to market because of paranoid bureaucrats terrified of being held responsible for failure...

        A stagnant medical industry, littered with improvements that can't be brought to market because they wouldn't be cost effective...

        Small-population diseases for which we have cures, but which can't be i

      • And the claims are so outrageous, the cost is $8,000 - well,, I see the only people doing this are very wealthy who can throw away $8,000 and not miss it and very gullible people.

        So... no need for the FDA to intervene then.

    • It's not just not going to help you stay young, but likely to do you harm. Giving blood is not without risk in both the short and long term, the latter only only really becoming appreciated relatively recently. While some junior doctors on surgical wards might give it out willy-nilly if left unchecked a more sensible doctor gives blood products when there is no alternative and a real and immediate risk from not doing so.

    • They haven't shut down Homeopathy yet, why would they touch this?
    • Why isn't the FDA shutting this down.

      Why should they? It's all voluntary interactions.

      • Why should they? It's all voluntary interactions.

        Because every society on the face of the planet has decided that fraud is a bad thing, and should be illegal. Doesn't matter if the person you're defrauding "voluntarily" gives you his money; you're still a scumbag, and we think you shouldn't be allowed to do it.

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:49AM (#54534563)

    Drinking blood is the next big thing to keep old people young.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/julia-caples-drinking-blood_n_3416983.html [huffingtonpost.com]

  • Good idea. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:50AM (#54534573) Homepage

    Note that donated Blood has an expiration date. Living cells die. Red blood cells last for 42 days, platelets last only for 7 days.

    That means in order to have enough blood for medical emergencies, we need t constantly have EXTRA blood available that will be wasted. Which means that every day we throw out a ton of 'expired' blood.

    This new business can help manage this problem. Bigger market, means less gets wasted. Worst case scenario, we can say "sorry, you need to return that blood, that was a 12 car pile up on I95." Build it into their contracts.

    • Would these people that are getting this "young blood" have some of their own taken out at the same time to avoid issues of excessive blood volume? I'd think that adding blood to the body in any amount to have a medical benefit/cost/change would also mean adding more blood than the body can just take on and not make room for it.

      So, this could be a big benefit for the blood supply. We'd have rich "old" (in quotes since the lower age range is 35, which is not all that old any more) people paying to have blo

      • by Zarquon ( 1778 )

        Only works once: There's a 12 month donation deferral after receiving a blood donation, to limit risk of disease transmission.

        -Bob

  • Teen blood? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:50AM (#54534575)

    More like 43 year old homeless drug addict blood. But how would you tell?

    A little hepatitis never hurt anybody...

    • More like 43 year old homeless drug addict blood. But how would you tell?

      Donated blood is screened for many illegal drugs, and some legal drugs.
      If your blood has a positive test for, say, opiates, you will be permanently banned from donating.

      A little hepatitis never hurt anybody...

      Donated blood is tested for hepatitis, along with many other diseases.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Donated blood is tested for hepatitis, along with many other diseases.

        Well it sure worked well up here in Canada with the thousands of people who got tainted blood with those testing regimens existing. [lac-bac.gc.ca] Except of course the blood services got lazy and didn't do their job, that possibly can't happen again.

        • I suspect there is a big difference in the quality of blood screening between (1) a government-run single payer system subject to government liability rules, and (2) a private medical provider that charges $8000 per treatment and is fully legally responsible for any damage they cause.

          In different words, I'd be reluctant to get a blood transfusion from the Canadian health services; I'd have no problem getting a blood transfusion from the same private company that gives Peter Thiel a blood transfusion.

  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:52AM (#54534587)
    It's _possible_ there might be some effect from this process, but a business model based on the idea sounds like an attempt to milk as much money as they can before it all falls apart.

    Either further tests by researchers will prove that the perceived effect was a mistake or due to something besides the blood itself, or they'll figure out what the mechanism is and they'll develop a means to synthesize whatever component of the blood causes it. Which means you'll be able to get the treatment without paying thousands of dollars to be a high-tech vampire.

    Until then they're counting on the fact that it _sounds_ plausible to a layman, and also probably that some really rich people _like_ the idea of sucking the life out of poor people in a much more literal manner than they can usually get away with.
    • There is a definite, medical benefit for some of the elderly, at least if the hook up was 24/7. Whether a once a week (or even once a day) blood transfusion will be enough is another question entirely.

      As you get older, your organs, such as your kidneys and liver start to fail. Those organs add and remove things from your blood.

      That means an 80 year old probably has not enough of certain good things in their blood and too much of certain waste products.

      If your blood is too acidic, it will leach your bones,

      • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
        And because those issues have been identified we have a technological way to address then. Most directly by dialysis machines, which would be cheaper and easier than what they're proposing here.

        A year of dialysis treatments costs $72,000 according to Google. At three sessions per week setting up a similar treatment with the described transfusions would cost $1,248,000.

        Of course being on dialysis really sucks, but i doubt that getting three transfusions a week would be much fun either.

        Of course what th
      • There is a definite, medical benefit for some of the elderly, at least if the hook up was 24/7. Whether a once a week (or even once a day) blood transfusion will be enough is another question entirely.

        Well, fortunately, we have a whole bunch of people who are not just volunteering to be subjects for experiments, but even are willing to pay for it. Let's hope the FDA won't shut this down before we learn more.

        Long term, I expect we can replicate any effect using drugs or cultured cells.

    • Either further tests by researchers will prove that the perceived effect was a mistake or due to something besides the blood itself,

      In short :
      - Blood tranfusion from blood banks is really only red blood cells. And almost nothing more.
      - Hooking two mices together, is way much more than that.

      Out of the top of my head:
      - Means that the old mouse's blood is processed by the organs of the younger one :
      kidneys, liver - organs which are in charge of eliminating/chemically processing toxins.

      - There's more that simply red cells that the old mouse is getting from the young one :
      platelets, white blood cells and antibodies (ie.: imune system),
      hormo

      • - Hooking two mice together, is way much more than that.

        . . . so should I try surgically attaching mice to my own body . . . ?

        Side effects include "squeaking" and a craving for cheese . . .

        "Hi, I'm Mr. Kid, and this thing next to me playing with the Fidget Spinner is my surgically attached teenager."

        Hey, all those folks on Universal Basic Income have plenty of time on their hands . . . maybe they can be used as involuntary blood donors . . . ?

  • Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:53AM (#54534605)
    I say go for it. Millenials and whatever the younger generations are have been screwed over by boomers. If boomers want to throw peanuts to the younger generation in exchange for something they can easily regenerate, fine, it's better than the financial vampirism they've already done to education, social security etc.

    Plus, as long as you match up the blood types and keep things clean, it doesn't hurt anyone. Unlike the stem cell superstition clinics currently targeting people with more money than ability to understand medical advice. [arstechnica.com]
    • Stop being a crybaby. Boomers didn't do shit to your lazy ass. It's the wealthy - they've been screwing over everyone since the beginning of time. Boomers were also screwed over by them.
      • Boomers did vote for the shit that is hurting younger generations. That they themselves are hurt by the policies they approved is funny, but doesn't change the fact that they signed off on it. Boomers voted for Trump, repeal of financial regulations, repeal of environmental regulations, tax breaks for the wealthy (not millenials) and student aid cuts.
  • by watermark ( 913726 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:53AM (#54534609)

    I wonder if the original donors know that their blood is being sold for this use? I know that if I donated my blood thinking it was going to save a life, and it was instead sold for profit, I'd be a little disturbed.

    • Re:Donor Intent (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:57AM (#54534663)

      If they did it here (Canada), I'd love it because the money would go back into Canadian Blood Services, and help fund blood drives, collection, and storage.

      Hell, if they gave a percentage back to young donors to encourage regular donation, and another percentage to artificial blood research, that'd be awesome too.

      Lining a for-profit blood business owner's pockets though? Not so nice.

    • I wonder if the original donors know that their blood is being sold for this use?

      I am a regular donor, and I am fine with it. Blood banks need money to operate, and I would rather them get money this way than from my tax dollars. Also, much of this is likely blood that would otherwise be wasted. Blood banks keep extra blood on hand to be ready for emergencies, and when those emergencies fail to happen, the blood expires and is discarded. Since this is a non-critical application, it can be used to smooth the demand curve.

    • I know that if I donated my blood thinking it was going to save a life, and it was instead sold for profit, I'd be a little disturbed.

      Do you honestly think blood isn't already sold [nytimes.com] for [wptv.com] profit [newsok.com] to [forbes.com] hospitals [aol.com]?

    • If you weren't aware, the American Red Cross, who runs the most visible blood donation operation in the US, does not turn around and donate it to hospitals. They sell it at a pretty high cost at around $150 per pint.

      Red Cross to Charge More for Blood

      Also: What many donors don't know: Their blood is sold [newsok.com]

      On its tax form, OBI describes one of its key programs as managing the blood donations from more than 209,000 people each year. The blood is tested and processed by OBI, then distributed “to patients across the states we serve,” a task that cost $65 million but generated $75 million in the 2012 tax year.

    • I don't even get t-shirts anymore, or even the pint for a pint of ice cream. Going through all that hassle and resulting few days of reduced activity/fatigue only to see my blood sold for a profit to the rich is BS. Give me a cut or I am done.

  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @09:55AM (#54534637)

    "All I needed was the blood of a young boy" - https://youtu.be/VRNwqVU70Q8 [youtu.be]

    He's stayed alive this long, he must be onto something

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And I thought the transfusion scene in Silicon Valley with Gavin Belson was so absurd as to be fantasy. The real Silicon Valley (place) is far scarier than the show makes it out to be.

  • by Koreantoast ( 527520 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @10:02AM (#54534721)
    And in other news, the number of teenage runaways appears to have quadrupled over the last year. Details at 11.
  • Foolish Risk (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fieryphoenix ( 1161565 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @10:06AM (#54534755)

    If you ever need an organ transplant, all those transfusions will lower your ability to find a good match. When my wife was on the list for a kidney transplant, she needed transfusions due to anemia, and MAN did they hold back as much as possible so as not to screw her out of a new kidney.

  • First they will prey on young students just trying to get through college but then come to a conclusion that it would be cheaper just to pick on people who happen to be in a condition where they have no other opportunity. Sentences for crimes will be shortened if they are under 25 and donate a pint of blood.

    Welfare parents are also trying to take advantage of this system by having more children. Blood children, they are mules for society. Sure a child shouldn't be able to donate until they are 16 with pa

  • "I think the animal and retrospective data is compelling, and I want this treatment to be available to people." - I want to make as much money on this as quickly as I can before it's disproven.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Friday June 02, 2017 @10:22AM (#54534931) Journal

    Blood transfusions carry risks. Virus screening isn't perfect. Transfusions are for emergencies, not for vanity.

    -jcr

  • Bring up the images of Baron Vladimir Harkonen, from Frank Herbert's Dune.

    Or the rumors that were rampant in pre-2011 Egypt that President Hosni Mubarak is still in power because he gets blood transfusion from youth on a regular basis.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Loren Pickart first discovered this effect in the 1970s and found the responsible isolate, GHK, which has been extensively studied.

    It's probably available in kilogram quantities for the price this company is charging.

    This company is either ignorant of basic science, or a deliberate scam.

  • by vlad30 ( 44644 )
    $8000 for teenagers blood? what would they pay for babies blood? but I bet this takes off in china
  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @10:32AM (#54535067)

    Sounds like the dumbest and riskiest thing to do with blood. I'd bet that there are huge risks with blood transfusions.

    Long-term things like immune-system fatigue,
    big things like contamination, and
    small things like whoops-wrong-blood-type.

    When you're severely injured, and in a hospital, and doing it rarely, those risks are certainly and obviously worth undertaking.

    But voluntarilly taking those risks, in the hopes of a very-long-term benefit, well, how many of those risks need to go wrong before you've made things worse instead of better?

    I'm thinking the answer is only one.

  • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

    I bet I could find a nurse or technician, and a willing compatible blood donor for about a quarter of the price.

  • Finally, we've found a job the Millennials are willing to do: sit in a chair and bleed while they play on their phones! I kid, I kid... :)
  • So rich old people are injecting themselves with the blood of teenagers to maintain their youth.......... I'm going to be surprised if a media feeding frenzy doesn't ensue.
  • I'm surprised to see over 100 comments, and not yet find a single Blood Boy [theverge.com] comment.

  • Hasn't Keith Richards been doing this for decades? I'm pretty sure the teen gets a pint of Keith's blood back in trade, so everyone is happy.
  • There's a sucker born every minute, and our government wants you to know that it supports bullshit like this or it would be illegal.
  • Don't people donate blood to blood banks? How is it that the blood bank is permitted to sell the donation? Why doesn't this start-up skip the middle-man and buy directly from youngsters?

  • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @01:54PM (#54537199)

    I like how the left out the follow-up study in mice where they only gave transfusions to the older mice and it had no effect.

    It turns out the effect was from the young kidneys, liver, etc. that the older mice could use when their circulatory systems were joined.

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