Chloe Hedaya & Evan Berman
Unfortunately, age goes up but never comes down. However, mice are in luck since young mouse blood has been found to increase the life of older mice by 6 to 9 percent, equivalent to around six years for humans. In the quest to unravel the mysteries of aging, scientific discoveries like this offer intriguing possibilities for extending the human lifespan.
Scientists surgically connected young mice with old mice in a process known as parabiosis and attached the youthful blood vessels to the old ones. Parabiosis has been practiced since the 19th century and has often been successful. After the mice had been connected for about three months, scientists detached them and observed the old mice to see if there were any changes in their course of aging. Not only did they find that the old mice lived longer, but their path of aging had seemed to pause. They looked at molecular markers in the old mices’ blood and liver that act similar to a clock for an animal’s age and found that they were younger than those in untreated mice at the same age. However, while the old mice seemed younger, the young mice seemed to have aged. “The young mice rapidly become older, and when we separate the mice, it goes back,” said Vadim Gladyshev, an expert on biological clocks at Harvard Medical School and an author of the new study. Some thoughts on how this works are that the young blood contains molecules that help reprogram and rejuvenate cells. Another idea about how this works is that the young blood dilutes the harmful compounds in the old blood, which would explain why the old mice seemed to stop aging altogether. While this study has shown promise, another study from last year did not show that parabiosis helped older mice to live longer. Dr. David Glass, the vice president for research on age-related disorders at Regeneron, a pharmaceutical company, noted that the two studies used two different strains of mice, which could be why they provided different results. He said that “one should be cautious in generalizing the findings” since we are unaware if this study only shows success for this particular strain of mice. According to Dr. White, research will continue, and the “hows and whys” will be hunted. In an era where aging has become a pressing topic, findings such as these could lead to profound advancements. The potential that this young blood carries could lead to groundbreaking technologies and medicines that could transform the way we age.