Recent research conducted by two teams of scientists is giving goose bumps to many, and the reason is not very difficult to fathom. The results of the experiment revealed that blood from young mice could reverse the aging process in old mice! The results may seem macabre but it could lead to new hope for treatment of chronic ailments like Alzheimer’s disease and Cardiac ailments.
The research may be based on the ghoulish speculation that blood of young people could contain something which rejuvenates the body of older adults.
The idea was first tested in 1950 by Clive M. McCay and his associates from Cornell University. The team joined rats in pairs by stitching them together by the skin on their flanks in a process termed as parabiosis. The blood vessels started growing and joined the two rat’s circulatory system and the blood from the young rat started to flow into the old rat and vice versa. Performing necropsies Dr McCay and his team found that cartilage of the old rats looked younger than it would have otherwise. However not much was known until the last decade. Today researchers know that it is all due to the stem cell which is abundant in the young rats as compared to older rats and it quickly repaired the damages and produced new cells to replace the dying ones.
However A. Rando, a professor of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine tried out a completely idea. It is now known that stem cells are not dying in aging tissues. The stem cells were not getting the right signals to start their role of replacing dead cells. Dr Rando wondered if the signals could be sent to these stem cells by bathing them in young blood.
The scientists joined the old and the young mice for five weeks and examined them. As predicted, the muscles of the old mice healed quickly and it regenerated liver cells at a much faster rate. On the other hand the young mice grew old prematurely. There were compounds in the young blood which awakened the dormant stem cells in the old mice.
Amy J. Wagers, a member of Dr. Rando’s team, continued the study and to identify the molecules responsible for this change and found that a protein called GDF11 which was abundant in young mice and scarce in old ones. To confirm that GDF11 was essential for the parabiosis effect, the scientists produced a supply of the protein and injected it into old mice. They found that GDF11 awakened the dormant stem cells in old muscles, making old mice stronger and increasing their endurance.