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article imageBrain gains in elderly mice given human umbilical cord plasma

By Tim Sandle     Apr 23, 2017 in Science
In what could turn out to be a major science breakthrough, researchers have succeeded in rejuvenating old mice’s brains and improve their memories by injecting them with plasma taken from human umbilical cords.
The experiment means that it might be possible, one day, to restore memories and to slowdown the rate of memory loss, in elderly people through injections of human blood serum. The study in mice was a follow-on from previous work where the administration of young mice’s blood had beneficial effects when injected into older mice. What is different about the new study is that it has used human plasma. The findings suggest that human plasma has a similar effect with the mice as plasma extracted from younger mice.
Human plasma is the straw colored liquid component of blood that normally holds the blood cells in whole blood in suspension; this makes plasma the extracellular matrix of blood cells. It makes up about 55 percent of the body's total blood volume.
Mice, like people, see a decline in brain performance as they age. This is most apparent with memory, as demonstrated in tests like mazes. As with people the brain region called the hippocampus is where learning and memory decline originate. This made mice a good candidate for the study.
With the research, as Science News reports, the researchers injected old mice with human plasma taken from umbilical cords, young adults and elderly adults. The administrations took place every four days over a two-week period. Analysis showed that the plasma injections changed the behavior of genes in the hippocampus, but only when blood plasma from younger humans was used. No effects were seen with the mice given plasma injections from older humans. The beneficial effects on older mice given plasma inbjections from younger humans were verified through further maze memory tests.
The new findings come from a study conducted by Joseph Castellano, who is a neuroscientist working at Stanford University. Further analysis has shown that a particular protein is responsible for the age-resisting effects (this a protein called TIMP2). This is important in the long-term, should the method prove suitable for use on humans, since a purified exact is likely to prove to be more efficient.
The research is published in the journal Nature, in a paper titled "Human umbilical cord plasma proteins revitalize hippocampal function in aged mice."
More about Memories, Senility, neurodeg, umbilical cord, Plasma
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