A San Francisco startup is selling the blood of young people for $8,000. They are running experiments to see the health benefits of putting the blood of teenagers into older people, as BBC reported.
The company hosts a procedure that takes 2.6 quarts of plasma from youngsters and injects it into older folks with a median age of 60 years old. Plasma is the liquid part of blood minus the less liquid cells.
Older people will supposedly find themselves rejuvenated after the procedure. “It could help improve things such as appearance or diabetes or heart function or memory. These are all the aspects of aging that have a common cause,” said 32-year-old Jesse Karmazin, who founded the Ambrosia startup, via The Times. “I’m not really in the camp of saying this will provide immortality but I think it comes pretty close, essentially,” he added. Over a hundred people have already undergone the transfusion.
The idea comes from studies that show older mice benefit from having their circulatory systems joined with those of younger mice. Those studies started 17 years back. A Stanford neuroscientist behind one of the key mice studies, Tony Wyss-Coray, said that there is no indication that the study will be effective on humans.
The blood is purchased from blood banks. The blood plasma given to participants is often from a mix of several people, so that the amount is sufficient.
Critics also warn against the dangers the experiment could cause. They point to hives, fatal infections, and lung injury that could result when large amounts of blood plasma are shifted from person to person. There are others who think it is an exploitative scam.
“People want to believe that young blood restores youth, even though we don’t have evidence that it works in humans and we don’t understand the mechanism of how mice look younger,” said Wyss-Coray to MIT Technology Review.
Another major ethical issue is that young people selling blood may not be aware that it can be used for experimental studies such as these, rather than directly go toward crisis or lifesaving usage. There is also the issue of no placebo being used so that scientists can better gauge the experiment’s effectiveness.
Karmazin said that the experiment has passed ethical review, and that it would be unfair to give patients a placebo when they are all paying thousands of dollars.
Karmazin already lauds the effectiveness of his experiment. “We’re already seeing people look better after just one treatment,” he further said to The Times. “It’s like plastic surgery from the inside out.”