US doctor to open world’s first ‘young blood’ transfusion clinic

The company behind a controversial clinical trial in which participants paid thousands of dollars for “young blood” plasma transfusions continues to face criticism as it forges ahead with plans to open a rejuvenation clinic in New York.

The US start-up Ambrosia Plasma says it will shortly open a clinic to offer plasma from young people that will have beneficial effects on ageing, inflammation, immune function and amyloid plaques.

The company made headlines over its 2016 study, which looked at the “beneficial effects” of infusing about 1.5 litres of plasma from young donors (under 25 years) into adults (over 35 years), and measuring changes in ‘age-related’  physiological biomarkers and organ function.

The study’s participants paid $8000 to take part. The results have not yet been made public but are “really positive” according to the company’s founder Dr Jesse Karmazin.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, the Stanford Medical graduate described how he became inspired by studies of heterochronic parabiosis in mice, a procedure that involves surgical joining of an aged animal to a young partner to share the same bloodstream.

But his work has been panned by haematologists and researchers in Australia and the US.

Consultant haematologist Dr James Daly, immediate past president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion, has previously told the ABC’s Hack program that there’s no good evidence the procedure has any benefits and results from animal  models are “not strongly convincing”.

“I think most people can recognise it as a bit of scam really.”

Meanwhile, Irina Conboy, a University of California at Berkeley researcher who has published on parabiosis, said the young blood transfusions could be dangerous.

“It is well known in the medical community – and this is also the reason we don’t do transfusions frequently – that in 50% of patients there are very bad side effects,” she told Business Insider.

“You are being infused with somebody else’s blood and it doesn’t match.

“That unleashes a strong immune reaction.”

The study has also raised questions about ethical issues, cost and study design.

In an interview with Science, Dr Karmazin pointed out that the trial had passed ethics review.

Describing plasma as an untapped anti-ageing resource, he told the publication:“It’s this extremely abundant therapeutic that’s just sitting in blood banks”.

But in the same article, a neuroscientist who led a 2014 young plasma study in mice, Tony Wyss-Coray of Stanford University in California, said: “There’s just no clinical evidence [that the treatment will be beneficial], and you’re basically abusing people’s trust and the public excitement around this.”

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