Can Young Blood Bring Youth to the Old?

Playing Look and Feel Better with a Young Blood Transfusion?

Would you get a blood transfusion from someone younger if it meant it would make you feel more youthful? The Doctors discuss this concept that is now a reality; a controversial startup, Ambrosia Clinic, is now offering younger blood through transfusions to older patients. 

The CEO and founder of Ambrosia Clinic (which is currently open in five cities across the country), Dr. Jesse Karmazin, joins The Doctors on Skype. Dr. Karmazin explains what they are doing is not any different than a standard blood transfusion which is based on proven medical technology. The only difference is the intent of the transfusion which is to attack aging. 

Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon questions the safety and Dr. Karmazin says the blood comes from a blood bank which does a great job for screening for serious illness, saying the rates are one in several million to catch a transmissible disease. Dr. Ordon presses on, wondering, how this blood is actually going to make people feel more youthful?

Watch: Are Blood Transfusions the Fountain of Youth?

Dr. Karmazin says this is backed by science from reputable institutions like Harvard, UCSF and Stanford. Molecules decline as we age and supplementing them has been shown to restore function to many vital organs like the brain, heart and liver.

This young donor plasma is not cheap; Dr. Karmazin says the lowest price as of now is $8,000. To spend that much, The Doctors want to know, is there proof this is effective? Dr. Karmazin explains they did do a study that wasn’t randomized (meaning people knew the purpose of the study and what they were getting). Each patient received a single dose of plasma and the lab measured 100 biomarkers before the treatment and then one month after. He says they will soon be publishing the results of the physiological changes they saw in about 100 patients. 

“Why not do a good study rather than quite frankly, a poorly designed study?” Dr. Travis questions. A randomized controlled trial would provide real scientific results. Dr. Karmazin says that size of a study is difficult to do and they don’t have investors willing to fund a multimillion-dollar study like that, at this time. Dr. Karmazin believes even though not as rigorous, their study did provide useful information. OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry suggests doing a better study with a smaller population. “Even that smaller study would hold more weight,” she says.

Watch: Is There a Fountain of Youth inside DNA?

What do you look at specifically when judging “feeling more youthful?” Dr. Ordon asks. Dr. Karmazin does acknowledge that a lot of these assessments like sleep quality or energy levels are subjective. They did work with outside physicians who did neurological assessments. He feels that the improvements they saw in those biomarkers in their preliminary study is substantial enough for them to now offer the treatments. The transfusions are being used in an off-label way, so they are not regulated by the FDA. 

“This is an interesting area of research but there is still a lot more to learn,” concludes Dr. Travis.

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