Aging has always been of great importance to humans. We, as a species, have tried our best, especially in the last century or so, to find ways to live longer than our predecessors, mainly due to the fast progression of science over the last few centuries. However, perhaps the most important discovery in this field has now been found.
Before I go over what this discovery is, it is important to go over the basics of how aging works. If we take the traditional theory of aging: after about the age of 30, the body’s muscles, blood vessels and tissues lose their inherent elasticity, making them stiffer. Bones decrease in strength with metabolism falling as well. These are just a few of the outcomes of aging. These outcomes occur due to the body being less able to replace old cells and less able to maintain current body functions. Although as a society we define someone to be old if they are say, above the age of 70, in reality, aging is a rate of your body’s ever-decreasing ability to do normal actions. So someone who is 70 can still be somewhat young in terms of the function of their body. The problem with society as a whole, at the moment, is that people are too focused on how young they look externally, when in reality that does not count much for how long you live. How healthy and efficient your body is on the inside determines one’s lifespan. This is the side of aging which this article will focus on.1
In 2005, in the University of California, Berkeley, scientists found that the production of conjoined twins from young and old mice resulted in the old mice becoming younger, due to the old mice sharing blood/organs with the conjoined twins. Ever since this discovery of the reverse-aging properties of these youngsters’ blood, mice have been used more and more for age-related experiments to find a solution which is conceivable to work in humans.
Recently, a potential solution has been found. The same University of California team of 2005, found that diluting the blood plasma in the blood of old mice had the same effect of young mices’ blood in old mice. The dilution of blood plasma mentioned requires an even mixture of saline and albumin. This mixture was then used to replace half of the blood plasma a mouse contained. The result of this was groundbreaking. The old mice with diluted blood plasma, had more powerful rejuvenation in their brains, muscles and livers, than the old mice with youngsters’ blood inside them. Furthermore, using this plasma diluting technique on young mice had no side effects and did not slow their growth or harm their health.
This discovery has shifted the focus of extending longevity away from using the better blood of a healthier person to using chemicals to improve your blood, which is better at reversing aging.
This treatment of diluting blood plasma is already being used in hospitals, but not to extend general longevity. It is used at the moment for treating specific autoimmune diseases. The treatment is a clinical procedure named therapeutic plasma exchange, better known as plasmapheresis. It is FDA-approved by the USA and is used in a few medical cases in hospitals elsewhere in the world.
The fact that this procedure is already capable by doctors is great for the future where this can be used to improve overall health in older people. Final trials are occurring as of date, to confirm the overall benefits in terms of rejuvenation of the procedure, with the trials so far being extremely promising.
The science behind the procedure providing rejuvenation in old people is as follows. As humans grow older, the blood, and the blood plasma in it especially, has more and more harmful contents. Saline and albumin are very good for life and humans, especially in controlled portions. Therefore by diluting the blood with these chemicals in controlled amounts, the blood plasma and blood overall can form better than before, quickening the process of cells being replaced, a process which is slow in old people. The result of this is better body function as better blood is used around the body, with the key chemicals saline and albumin helping the blood and the body to rejuvenate, reversing aging.2
Aging has always been the enemy of humans, we are often scared of the fact that we are mortal. Although immortality is impossible, extending the length of lives certainly is possible and this discovery has the potential to extend lives in the future.
- The Scientist Magazine®. 2015. How We Age. [online] Available at: <https://www.the-scientist.com/features/how-we-age-35872> [Accessed 23 June 2020].
- Manke, K., 2020. Diluting Blood Plasma Rejuvenates Tissue, Reverses Aging In Mice: Plasma Exchange Could Be The Key To Unlocking The Body’s Regenerative Capacities. [online] ScienceDaily. Available at: <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200615115724.htm> [Accessed 23 June 2020].