Young-Blood Infusions for Older Adults
Do you feel like age is creeping up on you, robbing you of the little time and energy you have left? Beware, there are those who are attempting to capitalize on that very feeling. Establishments are selling young-blood plasma, the liquid portion of the blood that contains clotting factors, antibodies, and other proteins.
The sellers suggest that doses of young plasma can treat conditions ranging from normal aging and memory loss to dementia, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, or post-traumatic stress disorder. They claim not only may you live longer and be healthier, your chronic health problems may disappear.
On February 19, 2019, FDA posted a Safety Statement on young-blood transfusions:
Simply put, we’re concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors touting treatments of plasma from young donors as cures and remedies.
Such treatments have no proven clinical benefits for the uses for which these clinics are advertising them and are potentially harmful.
Treatments using plasma from young donors have not gone through the rigorous testing that the FDA normally requires in order to confirm the therapeutic benefit of a product and to ensure its safety.
There is no compelling clinical evidence on its efficacy, nor is there information on appropriate dosing for treatment of the conditions for which these products are being advertised.
A one-time infusion of young-blood plasma can be up to two liters and cost as much as $8000 per treatment. Even though blood products are screened for a variety of different infectious agents, there are risks, including:
Infections: from the blood itself or the infusion process
Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction
Respiratory and cardiovascular risks (too much fluid for the heart and lungs to handle)
Graft-versus-host disease: transfused blood cells attack the patient's own cells
Bad reaction if blood types are incompatible
Early research has shown that connecting the circulatory system of old and young mice was found to have rejuvenating effects on cells, tissues, organs, and functions.
In 2017 Sharon Sha, MD, Stanford University, completed a young-blood clinical trial on 18 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The trial was conducted in two stages over six months. During the first phase of the trial, nine patients received infusions of plasma and nine received a placebo of a saline solution. During a second trial phase, people who had been receiving plasma were given the placebo and vice versa. After each period of infusions, each participant took tests to assess mood, cognitive ability, and functional ability to perform life tasks. Participants and their caregivers didn’t know which they received.
Participants who received plasma showed no significant changes in mood or cognitive ability: memorize lists or recall recent events. The trial showed statistically significant improvements on two of three different assessments of functional ability: performing such basic daily life tasks as remembering to take medications, paying bills, and preparing meals.
Dr. Sha cautioned that more study is needed, considering the trial included only 18 people and results were reported by patients or their caregivers.
Like many aspects of the human body, the aging process is not fully understood. Most age-related biologic functions peak before age 30 and gradually decline thereafter. Many gerontologists (people who study aging) feel that aging is due to the interaction of many lifelong influences, including:
Exercise and leisure