Adventurers and scientists have been in search of the elusive fountain of youth for centuries. Now, a new start-up company thinks it has a unique answer to reversing, or at least slowing, the aging process.
Founded by entrepreneur Jesse Karmazin, California-based Ambrosia LLC buys the blood of young adults and offers it to their customers. The cutting-edge company acquires the blood of people 25-years-old and younger then transfuses it to anyone over age 35 willing to pay $8,000 for the service.
Based on something known as parabiosis, the company believes the exchange of blood will help stop, slow, or even reverse the aging process. Parabiosis is a procedure that surgically combines two organisms who then start sharing certain body functions. In 2014, researchers did experiments to study the effects and any potential benefits to the circulatory and cardiovascular systems by attaching older mice to younger ones.
The groundbreaking study found that blood from the younger mice actually helped stop certain characteristics of aging in the older ones. However, other similar studies have been unable to reproduce the results.
It is still highly debatable if the sharing of blood will produce anti-aging benefits in humans. However, according to report from New Scientist, certain biomarkers related to aging, including cancer and heart disease, can be potentially stopped by transfusing the blood of young people to older adults. Two of Ambrosia’s clients have even claimed their symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease have decreased since starting the treatment.
“I don’t want to say the word panacea, but here’s something about teenagers,” Karmazin told New Scientist. “Whatever is in young blood is causing changes that appear to make the aging process reverse.”
So far, nearly 100 people have paid Ambrosia for the anti-aging service, with the majority being close to retirement age. While not a confirmed client of the plasma company, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is intrigued by the potential health benefits. In an interview with Inc. last year, Thiel said he was “looking into parabiosis stuff” and thinks that Ambrosia’s approach to anti-aging is “very interesting.”
Of the people included in Ambrosia’s blood transfusion program, many saw a reduction in certain proteins normally associated with cancer patients. The level of these proteins, known as carcinoembryonic antigens, fell by 20 percent in participants of the treatment. Cholesterol levels decreased as well.
While the age reversing benefits of blood transfusion seem promising, the effects do not last. According to the company, several clients say the treatment works but the benefits faded a few months later. Despite the positive effects slowly going away, the treatment helps no matter a person’s actual age.
“Whether you’re 40 or 80, the effect is really similar,” said Karmazin, as cited by New Scientist. “Aging is just wear and tear.”
Ambrosia’s blood transfusion, anti-aging technique is not without detractors. Some health experts point out that the company did not have a placebo group when testing the program, so the results may not be entirely real.
Since each participant paid $8,000 to take part in the program, it is absolutely possible they wanted to believe the treatment works and imagined the positive effects. David Gems, from University College London, believes further tests, including placebo-controlled experiments, need to be performed before the perceived benefits of plasma exchange will be taken seriously in the medical community. However, finding participants willing to pay money and potentially receive a fake treatment would be difficult.
As of now, Ambrosia is the only U.S. company offering the blood transfusion, anti-aging procedure. If the controversial treatment is proven to provide tangible, long-term health benefits, growing old may be a thing of the past, at least for people who can afford it.
[Featured Image by Joern Pollex/Getty Images]