For those of you paying attention to either the biomedical literature or to this here blog, it won’t be news that researchers can reverse aging. And it’s easy! At least it is in mice. Just transfuse older rodents with the blood of much younger mice and it’s like that segment of the Twilight Zone movie. The ramifications of this work were obvious and a little queasy*, but it helped that researchers identified a protein called GDF11 that might offer the same benefit in pill or injection form, no young blood required.
Or maybe not.
Egerman [and co-workers] undertook a careful analysis of the function of GDF11 in young and aged mice. They report the opposite of what Sinha et al. reported, that overexpression of GDF11 results in impaired satellite cell function and reduced muscle regeneration. Notably, systemic delivery of GDF11 into old mice had no effect, whereas in young mice muscle regeneration was delayed due to reduced expansion and differentiation of satellite cells.
Meanwhile the overall benefit of perfusing young blood into old rats has held up pretty well.
Ten bucks to be a fly on the wall at Mayhew Insurance while they debate how to cover it.
(*) Count all the people who would prefer not to suffer from old age. Now multiply it by how much young blood each person would need. Factor in just how badly (some) people want to keep their youth and vigor, or get it back. Now consider that the group who wants the blood has all of society’s wealth and influence whereas those who would provide it have none.