Researchers at the Conboy Lab at UC Berkeley have found that the transfusion of blood from old mice to a younger mouse triggers aging.
The study acts on a hypothesis that suggests transfusing old mice with blood from a younger mouse could cause “de-aging,” according to a NewScientist press release. The press release added that the results may help researchers who are trying to address the health effects of aging.
“As organized systems we are falling apart, but it’s very curious that a young body fails faster when exposed to old blood,” said Irina Conboy, one of the researchers. “If we understand why, then we can use this to develop therapeutics to remove those damaging agents to help older people.”
Conboy noted three-month-old mice which were transfused with blood from two-year-old mice appeared visibly older after less than two weeks. According to her, the blood contained molecules that triggered those changes and, if filtered out and neutralized, could be removed from elderly people’s blood.
Prior to the study’s findings, Conboy said the current line of thought regarding aging was that the passage of time damages our body through entropic means. Bodies grow clusters of cells that are already damaged, called senescence cells, according to Conboy.
“You don’t have to go through life to get old,” Conboy said. “It’s not just age; we can have a very young organism and transfer blood from an older organism and it becomes old.”
Conboy said her lab made a discovery along the same lines in 2005; however, the team lacked a device to exchange blood between mice. Before the device’s invention, the experiment was not as controlled and thus, the results were not as reliable.
Several outlying factors, including the diets of the mice and interactions with other mice, could have influenced the study’s results in previous experiments.
Medical businesses in the Bay Area have been in the process of developing drugs to combat these cells, Conboy noted. She added, however, that the study reveals there are other factors contributing to the aging process.
“We help other labs at Berkeley and the UC system use the same technological platform, private clinic and collaborations with UCSF … We are cross-pollinating scientific technology between rejuvenation and blood exchange,” Conboy said.
The Conboy Lab is now in the process of fundraising for clinical trials to observe the experiment’s effects on people and test their hypothesis, according to Conboy.
Conboy also expressed gratitude for campus’s facilities and assistance with the lab’s research.
“Berkeley is a great environment for conducting research and pursuing our studies further,” Conboy said. “I would like to give thanks to the head of the department for the wonderful atmosphere we experienced while conducting research.”