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Transfusions Reverse Aging Effects On Hearts In Mice

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the assuming-it's-not-vampire-fanfic dept.

Biotech 130

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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130 comments

C. Montgomery Burns (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686137)

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

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43686353)

This is of course why Pope Ratzinger died: Ran out of babies to eat.

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (2)

zifferent (656342) | about a year ago | (#43686395)

Not to endorse Pope Nazinger, but he's dead yet.

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686841)

Or so They say. "Retired" from the Papacy to a secretive Home for Ex-Popes? Indeed, a less embarrassing public explanation than a breakdown in the stolen-babies-for-laundered-money exchange system between the Vatican banks and the mafia.

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#43687967)

""Retired" from the Papacy to a secretive Home for Ex-Popes? "

Retired, but Extremely Devoted. (RED)

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (3, Informative)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43688259)

I don't think that there's any evidence that he was a Nazi. He joined the Hitler Youth program at 14 because the law required it, and he was drafted into the German military later on because again, the law required it. There are accounts suggesting that he didn't like being in the former, and he deserted from the later. Pretty much any German of his age would have gone through the exact same thing, whether they supported the Nazi regime or not. The only ones who didn't were killed either under Action T4 or just for insubordination.

I'm not standing up for him by the way, personally I couldn't care less about anything the Vatican does. I'm an atheist so I have no reason for doing so anyways; I'm just stating the known facts.

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43688583)

This is of course why Pope Ratzinger died: Ran out of babies to eat.

Did the pub close early today?

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#43686437)

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.

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (1)

show me altoids (1183399) | about a year ago | (#43686763)

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.

Re:C. Montgomery Burns (1)

komodo685 (2920329) | about a year ago | (#43686915)

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.

Finally! (2)

Iridium_Hack (931607) | about a year ago | (#43686151)

Now I know why Vampires live so long!!!

GMO & Keith Richards (1)

j-stroy (640921) | about a year ago | (#43686179)

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

and in other news Keith Richards.

Re:GMO & Keith Richards (1)

Iridium_Hack (931607) | about a year ago | (#43686469)

Heh. Heh. And where will you sell your products . . . In the grocery store - near the fruit and vegetables?

Re:GMO & Keith Richards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43687289)

Plenty of room in the Fruits section

Let me be the first to say (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43686155)

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

You can hang out on my lawn.

Re:Let me be the first to say (2)

dragon-file (2241656) | about a year ago | (#43687761)

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]

Re:Let me be the first to say (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#43688939)

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.

Re:Let me be the first to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43688671)

Spike! Get in the house! . . . (oh right, sign!) . . . (grab, throw)

Hey kids, fresh sod! I got fresh sod here! No dog! No sign! No line! No waiting!

Oh look, somebody left spray paint here!

Vampires (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686157)

"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."

Creepy - vampires anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686161)

Sounds like Dorian Grey or Count Dracula finally found the Fountain of Youth.

In a Vile of younger blood.

Vampire mice from Harvard: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#43687065)

In this case, it's only Dorian gray mouse so far.

Re:Vampire mice from Harvard: (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43687467)

I expect the results of those experiments to be false. The mice are just messing with us.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686173)

All those cartoon and movie monsters that gain youth by sucking the life force from young victims....

Yup, here we are.

Re:So... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#43686247)

All those cartoon and movie monsters that gain youth by sucking the life force from young victims....

Hey, man, try to keep up - it's the biotech companies who make this stuff available [peprotech.com] that are cast as the monsters these days.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686779)

Will ACME be the first to offer these transfusions?

Nice, it's about time... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686193)

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

Bad news, Amy! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686211)

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

- Professor Farnsworth.

ridiculous header (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:ridiculous header (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43687665)

So, where do I sign up? Or is this a case of having to break in? It's okay if I have to break a few laws. I'll just be younger leaving than when I go in.

Ah ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43686255)

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.

Re:Ah ... (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year ago | (#43686455)

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.

Re:Ah ... (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43687481)

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? (4, Insightful)

BooMonster (110656) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Effects on donor? (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43686501)

Twould be a shame if people started doing these experiments on humans, and then find out that it accelerates aging in the donor.

They only did shared circulation in the first part of the experiment. Once they isolated the effective compound, shared circulation was no longer necessary. If this proves to be beneficial in humans, then most likely, the GDF-11 could be manufactured using GMO, but if it is extracted from human blood, it will almost certainly be extracted from donated blood that is not reinjected into the donor. We already know that donating blood is good for you [lef.org]

Queue snake oil "young blood" products (2, Funny)

Covalent (1001277) | about a year ago | (#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"

Re:Queue snake oil "young blood" products (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43688889)

*Sigh*. Halfway through the comments and everyone thinks this is a fountain of youth. IT ISN'T! This only affects the heart, not any other organs. It will keep your heart healthy, but not your lungs, liver, skin, brain, or any other organ. This will only benefit those who are prone to heart disease.

"Volunteer" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686313)

That's with cutesy air-quotes.

6 years? Not really. (3, Insightful)

drunken_boxer777 (985820) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:6 years? Not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686631)

Depends on what country you're in.

Pretty sure they're already doing this in India & China.

Re:6 years? Not really. (1)

speederaser (473477) | about a year ago | (#43689639)

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.

I've seen this movie.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686339)

Wasn't this that movie called "In Time" with Justin Timberlake?

Get yours now (if you're brave) (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year ago | (#43686363)

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

The new pedobear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686379)

Now there is a new reason to wear clothes that make you unidentifiable and drive around in a white van with tinted windows while offering candy to little kids at the park who help you find your lost puppy.

Heinlein Prediction.... (4, Interesting)

sneezinglion (771733) | about a year ago | (#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"

Re:Heinlein Prediction.... (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about a year ago | (#43686429)

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"

Yes, in that and other books.

Re:Heinlein Prediction.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686937)

It was at the end of Methuselah's Children. When they returned to Earth, everyone had a Howard Family lifespan, due to blood transfusions from the "Public Health and Longevity Service"

treatment becomes widespread but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686467)

something we couldnt possibly have anticipated goes wrong!

and....zombies

Why the need to share blood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43686531)

Why does this process have to involve sharing blood? If it can be reliably shown that the protein in question is indeed the only active agent, why not just manufacture it somehow and then inject it regularly?
I can foresee several different manufacturing processes, including organs being grown in tanks...

Re:Why the need to share blood? (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#43687093)

"including organs being grown in tanks"

So, does that have to be an M1 Abrams, or will the more common T-72s and the like work?

Re:Why the need to share blood? (1)

skids (119237) | about a year ago | (#43687709)

They were testing long-ish term exposure of the older mouse body to blood constantly filtered through the younger mouse's system. Doing that is apparently cheaper and more humane than harvesting and transfusing 24x7.

Any treatment they (meaning any sanely regulated or ethical medical establishment) develop from this won't expose the donor, that would violate a lot of laws, policies, codes and consciences.

Send in the Clones (1)

DumbSwede (521261) | about a year ago | (#43686561)

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.

Re:Send in the Clones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43687429)

Why not let the higher brain develop? You're already paying to house and feed the clones, might as well get them to do your chores, too.

Paywall (5, Funny)

RDW (41497) | about a year ago | (#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."

Re:Paywall (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#43687071)

RDW wins the Comment Of The Month award.

Re:Paywall (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43687577)

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 (4, Interesting)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Blood Trade (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#43687137)

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."

Heinlein gets another one right (1)

ChrisKnight (16039) | about a year ago | (#43687019)

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

Insurance (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year ago | (#43687031)

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.

Not to through too much cold water, but: (2)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#43687037)

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

Not out of the woods yet (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#43687107)

There's a bit of a caveat. Will old atherosclerotic arteries be able to supply the oxygen that young healthy myocardial tissue demands?

Re:Not out of the woods yet (1)

r2kordmaa (1163933) | about a year ago | (#43689107)

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.

Babylon 5 flashback: Deathwalker: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#43687243)

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. :)

Re:Babylon 5 flashback: Deathwalker: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43687387)

In the strictest scientific sense Doctor we all feed upon Death..

And in a way we always knew or know that this is the way to a "kind" of immortal life.. as every generation witnesses renewal in its children.

Who wants for childhood however, more likely healthy adulthood. We just long for more healthy years.

Its not exactly like this will extend life.. that's just the assumption.. its more likely to extend "healthy" years terminating in much the same time span.

But I think most people would be okay with that. Rather than a long slow decline, a quick and abrupt ending.

So in other words (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43687337)

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.

It's not about the blood (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43687937)

I guess this means Lance Armstrong will live to be 200 years old.

Nothing new here :D (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43688087)

Well, i guess count Dracula found this ages ago. Nothing new here :D

Might have a few interesting ramifications... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43688115)

Say bye-bye to Social Security, for one.

And we'll also probably see lots of database issues where a signed char is used to store "age".

Not to mention the whole overpopulation thing...

It's not so easy to even imagine all the possible ramifications if this were to work, though it's obviously a popular enough subject that I'm sure it's been explored.

Government regulation would step in; a black market would develop. Would there be a new war on drugs?

So, a young rat can me me young? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about a year ago | (#43688139)

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 put the rats in a large backpack the old man can carry on his back. :D

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