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“Young” Blood can Reverse Aging in Old Mice

Update Date: May 05, 2014 09:35 AM EDT

The fountain of youth has been the subject of many research projects. Even though researchers have not been able to uncover ways of slowing or reversing the process of aging, three new studies offer more insight. In one of the studies, researchers from Stanford University in California were able to reverse some processes of aging in mice models by injecting "young" blood into old mice.

For this study, the researchers experimented on mice that were 18-months-old, which would be equivalent to humans in their 60s. The team took blood samples from baby mice that were three-months-old and injected only the fluid part of the blood, known as plasma, into the older mice. Another group of 18-month-old mice acted as the control and did not receive any blood injections. Both groups of older mice participated in memory tasks.

The researchers found that the experimental group of old mice performed significantly better on the memory tests in comparison to the control group of mice.

"There are factors present in blood from young mice that can recharge an old mouse's brain so that it functions more like a younger one," said Dr. Tony Wyss-Coray of Stanford University School of Medicine reported by BBC News. "We're working intensively to find out what those factors might be and from exactly which tissues they originate."

Since the study was conducted in mice models, the researchers acknowledged the fact that trying this method on humans might not yield any beneficial results at all. The study, "Young blood reverses age-related impairments in cognitive function and synaptic plasticity in mice," was published in Nature Medicine.

In the other two papers both from Harvard University, researchers identified a particular substance that was more apparent in the blood of younger mice than the blood of older mice. They took this protein, GDF11, and injected it into older mice. The experimental group of mice had greater grip strength and exercised more on the treadmill in comparison to the control group of mice. These papers were authored by Amy Wagers and published in Science.

All studies suggest that young blood could be key in reversing signs of aging. By studying the components of young blood, researchers could one day find ways of slowing down or reversing the processes of aging in humans.

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