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Mice treated with a protein from umbilical cord plasma showed improved memory (nature.com)
139 points by car 156 days ago | hide | past | web | 58 comments | favorite

I'm reminded of this famous historical figure who inspired numerous vampire stories. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_B%C3%A1thory

And a black metal band, if memory serves.

It's apparently a thing now.

Peter Thiel has purportedly invested millions in anti-aging. A company called Ambriosa in particular matches older people with younger people for blood routine blood transfusions.

While this study may or may not work with humans, the Ambriosa project does seem to have legs.

The company is called Ambrosia and the technique is parabiosis:


They've started a clinical trial: https://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02803554

If the studies on humans works you could put to use the amount of blood that goes bad based on the shelf life of 49 days. That blood could go to good use .

> A company called Ambriosa in particular matches older people with younger people for blood routine blood transfusions.

All sorts of interesting setups could come out of this, with the rich paying the (compatible) poor for their youthful blood. Especially if compatibility is genetic, you'd potentially have multiple generations of a poor family existing specifically to support an aging rich person (and potentially the rich person's offspring).

Depending on how time consuming the blood contributions are, this could turn into a vampire-esque caste system, with the poor being blood cattle.

Nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan.

"And there once was a generation so selfish they even harvested the blood of their own children to prolong their own lives."

"Grandma, you're telling stories again. That couldn't possibly be true!"

"I swear on my husbands grave that it was true! They even levied a tax on them and made them pay for the treatment."

We are all equal but some are more equal than others. Those who are more equal have more money therefore they can officially buy bodies and rent their blood to others.

For one, too frequent transfusions results in toxic excess levels of iron in the body, as humans cannot actively remove excess iron. This occurs in people with thalassemia treated with blood transfusions.


So extract some of the recipient's blood before they receive a transfusion? This could be donated to a blood bank.

Or reduce the iron concentration in the blood you are transferring.

So, it's like a real life "Flowers for Algernon". Let's hope for a better ending.


more like Flowers for Dracula

Incredible book

http://itsalwayssunny.wikia.com/wiki/Flowers_for_Charlie so aptly named as the book was "flowers for algernon" and the movie adaptation was simply called "charly"

Can young animal blood also make old humans smarter (sheep, goats, pigs, ...)?

If so, and without adverse effects [1], an opportunity is discovered. Human cells might be better but a protein from animals might be cheaper and less ethically challenged, thus more accessible to the masses.

[1] An expert please have a say whether that is plausible or not.

Well, antithrombin III is produced in goats [1], although it seems generally more effiecent [2] to produce recombinant proteins in pigs as they are closer related to us. Note, that these are recombinant proteins (human proteins produced in animals) not natural animal proteins that are used in humans. Also note that it might be sufficient to produce these proteins in another biological system like insulin in bacteria (which are easier to handle, carrier lower disease risks, better to scale etc.), it really depends on the complexity of the protein.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antithrombinhttps://en.wikiped... [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3925420/

Maybe, like in the mice studies, we could just graft baby goats to our backs after we hit 50.

Sure, it will look odd, but that will just be the price to pay to stay young.

The real trick will be to keep the goats from chewing on your shirt collars.

I feel like this is the entry point to a new piece of dark speculative fiction, in which extreme age is venerated, and the number of goats attached to your back becomes a symbol of your wealth and power.

Perhaps a larger animal. Detachable coupling of course and some sort of programmatic control of the beast. The coupling would include devices which would increase the concentration of life giving material and turn back less desirable properties of the blood.

I would ride upon a great blood engorged elephant and take pity upon all the unwashed goat tethered masses.

I storm through the seas like Poseidon himself, a conquering champion, grafted to the back of a 24-foot baby blue whale. Next time around, though, I'll ask the doc to position me in front of the blow hole. Rookie mistake.

> The real trick will be to keep the goats from chewing on your shirt collars. That's easy. Duct tape it solves everything.. Or you can genetically engineer a goat without a mouth. :-)

"I Have No Mouth, and I Must Bleed"?

You may be interested in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebrolysin

I generally trust Nature, but unfortunately i can only access what appears to be more of an abstract, but i hope it addresses the concerns of http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/11/22/young-blood-does-not-rev... and similar research suggesting these claims could be anomalies.

> I generally trust Nature

That's your first mistake. Don't take my word for it:


Glamor journals are glamorous because of their "impact" (people read and cite them), and that "impact" occurs because they publish sexy (not necessarily replicable or useful) findings. Note that Nature is not a bad actor per se, and in fact their editors have completely destroyed my lack of faith in peer review lately (as an author). But the incentives for CNS journals skew in favor of "sexy" rather than "scientific", and the general tendency of NIH to fund "sexy" means that almost all research in glamor journals must be treated as suspect until replicated, ideally in a clinical trial or by an un-incentivized third party lab.

> I can only access what appears to be more of an abstract

There's a site called http://sci-hub.bz/ that can help.

> these claims could be anomalies.

You are correct, and you should heed your instincts. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and a single experiment or replication is one (possibly quite principled) sample from a distribution of potential outcomes. Don't invest yet ;-)

Side note: it seems like numeracy and statistical thinking is becoming the default in an educated population. You, too, are destroying my lack of faith in humanity. Thanks.

nb. Here is the link to the article:


Here are the figures:


If you need a fulltext link that can be arranged, but it's not a bad idea to understand how DOIs work. Here is one:


This is essentially a URI; the piece after the : is a URN, which is meant to uniquely identify a piece of published research (now expanded to include preprints and software).

To route it, you'll need a URL which your browser can resolve. Happily, if you visit


you will return to the paper. It is meant to provide a durable identifier, so that even Elsevier journals can't reliably hide the identity of a publication. What this also means is that "unlocking" services like Elbakyan's can use it as a primary key. Suppose you paste the URN part of that DOI onto http://sci-hub.cc/ or http://sci-hub.bz/ to complete the URL. What do you suppose happens?

(This is left as an exercise for the reader, and of course I cannot and do not condone violations of copyright law. So don't read whatever might pop up, ok?)

Interesting study in this regard: Michigan State University, East Lansing: Modulation of mammary gland development in pre-pubertal mice as affected by soya and milk protein supplements. [1] - Makes me wonder if there is a connection between the young mice and the milk they get from their mothers "isolated form of bovine alpha-lactalbumin commercially available. Alpha-lactalbumin is the primary protein in human milk, and is therefore extremely important for infant nutrition."

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=XLy5ZQVwPbcC&pg=PA24&lpg=P...



Where can I get some disease-free youngling blood?

Why does this totally make of me think of the book (and movie) The Glow?


Instead of ape apocalypse, rat apocalypse :))

should we start worrying people getting pregnant just to be harvested (voluntarily or not, for themselves or for sale)?

Listen to NPR's story for contemporary opinions against how this might not work for humans. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/04/19/52397584...

I don't see why that would be necessary. I skimmed the article and did some additional poking around for the protein at issue. I can't tell if it's been characterized, but it may be possible to synthesize it or get cells to produce it for you- either or which would obviate the need to extract it from actual cord blood.

TIMP2 is a well known protein, available from many sources like this one: http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/sigma/srp3174?la...

and to add to car's point, it is a recombinant protein produced in E.coli (the foundational bacteria on which biomedical research has been built). Easy to grow, easy to manipulate. We may not need cord-blood at all. Which is a good thing in terms of the potential ethical issues that will crop up.

Excuse the novice question.. so this protein is available for sale online?

I have an aging grandmother who is in her last weeks of life, though the doctors don't know why her body is failing despite strong heart and brain.

She is up for trying most anything and would probably be up for experimenting in herself.

They already harvest abortions for stem cells and such, so this wouldn't present any new ethical issues even if it were true.

And so the mice vampires rise and conquer the world!

Great news for Peter Thiel!

tl;dr: found that human umbilical cord plasma (= blood minus cells) improves old mice brain function (plasticity, memory), then teased out which protein in the cord plasma seems to have this effect (TIMP2) and showed that it is actively transported across blood-brain barrier (by marking it radioactively).

Since this worked across species barriers, it can be speculated that a similar effect would be seen when administering TIMP2 in humans. It'll be exciting to see what comes of clinical studies, which are under way.

[EDIT]:tone down expectations

Then efficacy, safety and long term safety have to be verified.

Apparently it is nowhere near as clear cut as expected. See the NPR article linked below.

The effects of TIMP2 described are very distinct. The paper was submitted in 2015, so it must have undergone a lot of scrutiny by reviewers with requests for additional experiments.

How this pans out in humans and in the long term is a different story.

Isn't this protein already found in human plasma?

Npr is not a great news source

how come?

Not enough quality control

A paucity of alternative facts, perhaps?

Are you saying that NPR doesn't have many alternative facts?

I think the point the original comment was trying to make was more that NPR doesn't have much in depth coverage when it comes to science. You'll think NPR does an exemplary job when it comes to content you don't know much about. But when you're more knowledgeable about the field being covered, you start to see minor inaccuracies to "dumb down" the concepts.

Which isn't a bad thing necessarily, it gets the point across without being too wrong.

You are speculating as much as I am about what f4ker's cryptic and uninformative post actually meant. If he meant what you think he meant, he could simply have written a note about what, specifically, in the NPR article is simplistic.

I do not see any way around news sources being simplified, to some extent, about everything, and you appear to agree. Do you think NPR's news is notably "not great" in that regard? Its liberal bias shows, but not in a way that strikes me as deceptive.

I'm not the authority on journalism by any means, but I'm happy to provide my own take.

There have been some stories on NPR (and most news sites as far as I can tell) that I've felt more knowledgeable about, and realized things were being simplified to make it easier to digest.

I guess another way of putting it would be that at first glance, you think NPR is awesome, and does a great job of covering the news. But then at second glance, you realize that while not intentional, it's just not as detailed or complete as you'd like it to be.

The vampire myth is getting some fresh blood too.

Don't let Thiel hear about this.

So vampires have more IQ than humans? I should reconsider becoming a vampire hunter.

Well, this is really not news. I knew about this for the first time in a documentary called "Monkey Shines", from 1988 ;-)

Sound to me they finally found the fountain of youth. hehhe

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