The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an official warning against the use of plasma infusions from “young blood” donors as anti-aging treatments.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., spoke out last month about establishments that claim to use the liquid form for blood from young donors to treat a variety of age-related conditions, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product,” Gottlieb said in a statement on February 19, 2019. “Our concerns regarding treatments using plasma from young donors are heightened by the fact that 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. Plasma is not FDA-recognized or approved to treat conditions such as normal aging or memory loss, or other diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.”
Plasma is the straw-colored liquid component of blood that contains a wealth of antibodies, glucose, clotting factors, electrolytes and hormones and, therefore, is considered “the gift of life.” Plasma has many legitimate clinical uses in treating serious health problems—including emergency situations (such as trauma and burns) and rare chronic conditions (such as autoimmune disorders and hemophilia).
But over the years, companies have turned a profit selling this liquid gold—offering plasma transfusions from young blood donors to people seeking to cheat aging, even though there’s no scientific evidence to support those claims.
One of these companies—Ambrosia, a private clinic based in Monterey, California, that was shut down after the FDA’s announcement—charged patients a staggering $8,000 for a liter of young plasma and $12,000 for two liters for intravenous treatments purporting anti-aging benefits.
There have been a series of scientific papers published in high-profile journals that used the same “young blood” theory to conduct experiments in mice. For example, in 2013, scientists from Stanford University published a study in Cell in which they conjoined the veins of older mice to younger mice to circulate blood between the rodents. The results showed that a specific component in young blood had anti-aging benefits for older mice, sparking mainstream interest in potentially reversing aging in humans.
“What they found is, by using very specific measures, that they could see to some extent that if you had young blood in an older mouse, there were certain parameters and certain features of aging that were very slightly modified,” said Margaret Goodell, Ph.D., professor and director of the Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Center (STaR) at Baylor College of Medicine. “Vice versa, you could take blood from an old mouse and put it into a younger mouse, and there were features of aging that you could now see in the young mouse. That led to the idea that there’s something circulating in the blood that is associated with age that you can make you younger or older, depending on which direction it goes.”
However, these fountain-of-youth medical treatment claims “have virtually no basis in reality,” Goodell said.
“There’s a hunger in our culture for any anti-aging therapy,” she said. “Everyone wants to try something new, and this sounds kind of cool as if there’s something magical in the blood of young people. It would be great if it were true, but it’s just not. Frankly, what boggles my mind is the amount of money they’re charging for these things.”
Even scientists who had done some of these early studies would argue, she said, that if there is any anti-aging effect at all, it’s very small and very transient.
“You could imagine if there’s a grain of reality to what is going on, that—at best—somebody might have a very transient, extremely minor effect that you’re not really going to be able to detect,” Goodell said. “That’s going to be gone in, say, a week after the transfusion is done. How often would you have to do these transfusions and at what cost for it to have an effect? It’s just not possible.”
Over at least the last eight decades, there has been a surge in research aimed at understanding the fundamental mechanisms of aging and the possibility of slowing down the process. The National Institutes of Health spent an estimated $8.1 billion on aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease research in 2018, according to the NIH’s Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools.
The 2019 budget for these conditions and diseases is expected to be less, which creates a more difficult funding challenge for researchers.
“In real science, we’re always struggling for funding to do what we think is good, quality research experiments,” Goodell said. “I work on aging myself and its impact on stem cells, as do many other labs. We’re always scrounging around for dollars here and there. Then I see people spending $8,000 on infusing plasma and the other people doing that. If we had 10 of them, that’s $80,000 I could put to really great use in a lab. I feel like it’s a terrible waste of money that’s going into the pockets of charlatans.”
Return The Favor: Glowing green for Veterans https://t.co/w7LwFweRyD via @abc27News
@j_rodricks1 @MJEjags @katyisd We are so grateful for these blood donations. They make a huge difference in our cancer patients’ lives. Thank you.
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Two of the graduate education programs at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth were ranked among the highest in the nation in the just-released 2020 edition of the Best Graduate Schools guide by U.S. News and World Report.
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Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Aida Nancy Sanchez. Aida served during the Vietnam War from 1952 to 1976.Aida was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in November 1931. She graduated at the age of 15 and won a scholarship to attend St. Mary of the Woods College in Indiana. She graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry. Upon graduation, she applied and was accepted into the army physical therapy school program with an age waiver due to being under 21 at the time. Aida then headed to Fort Sam Houston, Texas to attend and graduate from the program in 1953. This is where she also met then General Dwight Eisenhower. Afterwards, she was assigned to the Brooke Army Medical Centre at Fort Sam Houston then to Fitzsimmons Army General Hospital in Denver, Colorado around 1956. During this assignment, Aida met President Eisenhower when he came to visit his friend whom was her patient. She stated that he remembered her from the physical therapy school and sent a pot of stew he made a day or two after the visit.After she completed her assignment at Fitzsimmons, she was sent to Rodriguez Army Hospital in Puerto Rico until she was discharged from active duty and went into the army reserves for two years. During that time, Aida worked for the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois for a year before becoming the Director of the Bureau of Crippled Children within the Department of Health of Puerto Rico. During her time in Puerto Rico, she received a letter from the Department of Defense stating that they needed more physical therapists, so she decided to return to active duty. Her first assignment was the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, then she was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for a year or two. Afterwards, Aida was sent to Fort Myer, Virginia to establish a physical therapy clinic within the Andrew Rader Clinic at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Once setting up the unit, Aida was sent to graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and upon graduation was assigned to Letterman Army Medical Center to oversee the clinical affiliations of five universities located near the hospital.Aida’s next assignment was to become the assistant chief of physical therapy at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii before she received orders to deploy in support of the Vietnam War in 1970. She was originally sent to the Army hospital in Saigon to replace the physical therapist but was routed to the 95th Evacuation Hospital near Da Nang to establish the first physical therapy clinic within the hospital. During her tour of duty, Aida was extended to deploy to Cambodia and assist then President Lon Nol because she had previously helped him during his stay at the Tripler Army Medical Center. She was constantly flying back and forth between Vietnam and Cambodia to help the president get physically better. She assisted many American and Cambodian soldiers and citizens with their physical therapy needs while deployed. After Aida redeployed, she was sent to Fort Gordon as the chief physical therapist who oversaw the transfer of the physical therapy clinic from older barracks into the newly built Eisenhower Army Medical Center. It took about six years to complete the task and Aida retired as a Lieutenant Colonel shortly after with about 24 years of service.Thank you for your service, Aida!
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"With all of this support and love, it’s difficult to not be positive. Of course, some days were harder than others. I still remember how weak I sometimes felt and how uncomfortable it was to wear a pump after chemo," says Paula Carrillo."Still, I won’t complain. Despite the sudden bad news, I got a second chance, thanks to my family, my friends and my team at MD Anderson." #endcancer