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article imageEssential Science: Can blood plasma therapy reduce aging?

By Tim Sandle     Jun 29, 2020 in Science
It appears that by diluting blood plasma it is possible to rejuvenate tissue. Through this is may be possible to reverses aging. At this stage the process is based on studies conducted using mice. Going forwards a human therapy could be possible.
The research suggests that the process of plasma exchange might present a means to unlock the human body's regenerative capacities. This is a limitation with the human body unlike certain other animals.
New research
The new research comes from University of California (Berkley), supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and it looks at what happens when half of blood plasma is substituted for a mixture of saline and albumin. Study results indicate that this mixture is capable of reversing the signs of aging as well as rejuvenating muscle, brain and liver tissue. These outcomes have been observed in older mice.
Blood plasma is a yellowish-colored liquid component of blood that holds the blood cells of whole blood in suspension. It is the liquid part of the blood that carries cells and proteins throughout the body.
The research area came out of a serendipitous discovery when scientists found that when they sought to engineer conjoined twins from both young and old mice (when the rodents share blood and organs), they were able to rejuvenate tissues with the older mice.
This led to further research whereby an age-reversing effect was accomplished by simply diluting the blood plasma of old mice. With this new step the plasma of younger mice was no longer required.
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This was shown through a series of experiments where half of the blood plasma of old mice was subtitled for with a mixture of saline and albumin. It is thought that there is a build-up of particular proteins that occurs with age and these acts as an inhibitor with tissue maintenance and repair. It follows that diluting these proteins with blood exchange could reverse this.
The studies are based on diluting the blood plasma by switching out part of a mouse’s blood plasma with a solution of saline and the protein called albumin, with the observed effect being a type of ‘molecular reset button’.
This led to an observed rejuvenation effect on the brain, liver and muscle. What appears to be happening is that age-elevated, and potentially harmful, factors are being purged from the blood of older mice.
The technology used is called therapeutic plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) through which a range of autoimmune diseases can currently be treated.
Next steps
Based on successful study outcomes, the science team are putting together plans to finalize clinical trials. These controlled experiments may determine whether modified plasma exchange in humans can help to tackle age-associated diseases. A secondary area will be to assess if this approach can improve the overall health of elderly people.
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The types of age-associated diseases that the researchers are keen to treat include muscle wasting, neuro-degeneration, Type 2 diabetes and immune deregulation.
Research paper
The research has been published in the journal Aging, where the research paper is titled “Rejuvenation of three germ layers tissues by exchanging old blood plasma with saline-albumin.”
Essential Science
This article forms part of Digital Journal’s Essential Science column. Each week we survey the major science stories of the week and bring you a topical item.
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