My favorite underreported medical ethics quandary, updated

Some of you likely remember that series of scientific studies showing the most dramatic anti-aging therapy ever discovered. All you need is lots of blood from the very (very) young and, in rats and mice anyway, the worst effects of age disappear. Ergh. The good news was that researchers might have identified a protein called GDF11 that had all the same good effects as the blood of children without the obvious ethical issues.

That sounded promising, but follow-up reports suggested that GDF11 might not work as well as they first thought. Now, much more authoritative follow up studies have confirmed the point.

[W]e have now gone from the hope that GDF11 might be the factor that is lost as a result of aging, and therefore could reverse age-related phenotypes, to the finding from multiple groups that GDF11 is not decreased as a result of aging, makes age-related phenotypes worse, and is now shown to be a risk factor for human frailty and disease when it is found at high levels (Schafer et al., 2016).

On the plus side, data for very young blood still looks solid. If you consider the potential market for an actual, no bullshit treatment to reverse aging, I feel pretty confident that this will become a question people have to address sooner or later.

Here’s a picture of an Orange Bishop that I took at the National Aviary.


Rejuvenation through vampirism: the medical ethics are not getting easier

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.

Mid-day Open Thread

Yes, most of the polls and the three most reliable poll aggregates show President Obama on track to a 300+ EV victory next Tuesday.

We’re going to keep the Senate.  Truly, these are good times.  Yay us.  But it’s not over yet. Let’s run the score up on the bastards.

I don’t know shit about phone banking via cell phone, but many of you do.  I know that’s DougJ’s bag, so maybe he’ll post something about it here shortly.  Those of you who do should please put some information down in this thread.

Also, if you haven’t given before, or haven’t given a lot, consider donating a year of double mochachino half-caf lattes to our Act Blue account:

Goal Thermometer

And down-ticket, here’s a link to the PEC High Leverage targets:

And last, but absolutely not least, here’s a link to the American Red Cross, where you can donate cash, and not pull a Romney, to disaster relief.  If you can’t afford money for this, donate blood.


Be Careful Out There: Vampire Beast-With-Two-Backs Edition

Jumping on the CDC’s Zombie-Apocalypse-Preparedness bandwagon, Planned Parenthood offer some very sage advice:

Let’s face it: vampires can rack up a lot of sexual partners over the years. Your vampire might be the same age as you, or she or he might be thousands of years old. But no matter how old you are, if you’re going to jump into bed with a vampire, you’re going to need more than a clove of garlic to protect your health.

Check the link for the rest of the 411.  My favorite bit:

Vampires might be immortal, but you’re not.

True, dat.

Remember — with vampires, you might be thinking of a night to remember, but for them, it’s always fangs for the mammaries.

(Rimshot, please.)

Happy Hallowe’en, all. (And this should serve as an open thread, no?)

PS: really cool old NSFW in our prudish time pic below the jump.

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Open Thread: Blood Drive

I’m giving blood this morning, and I encourage anyone interested to do so, too.  As usual, in the summer there’s a critical shortage of blood, so give early and often.  This is an open thread.

Blood Drive

It’s blood donation time again for all of us who started giving after Gabby Gifford’s shooting. I’ll be giving this morning, and I hope some of you can find the time to do it.

Speaking of Gabby, she’s had a busy week. On Monday, she saw her husband pilot Endeavour into space. On Wednesday, she had her skull repaired with a ceramic plate and a shunt implanted. Surgery went well, and she’s making good progress in rehab:

Giffords is talking, can understand complicated concepts and is able to recognize subtleties in conversation, including sarcastic humor, Carusone said. She understands when people speak to her in Spanish, Carusone said. Giffords was bilingual before the shooting. Giffords’ voice is the same as it was before the shooting, her staff says.

“She understands, if not everything, close to everything,” Carusone said. “For people who know her, she’s a very determined person.”

She’s still having trouble speaking, and with strength her right side, but all in all, it’s a great recovery so far.

Blood Drive Update

For those of you who participated in the January blood drive, next week will be giving time again, so consider this a gentle reminder. Anyone else interested in giving should check out the Red Cross site for more information.

The reason I started a blood drive was because the Chairman of the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party suggested it as a productive response to a Tea Party “Dump Dupnik” protest. Dupnik, you’ll remember, was the Sheriff who served up a few home truths after the killing spree and assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords. Since it’s been a couple of months, let’s check in and see how that dump is coming along:

Looks like they need to push a little harder.

But don’t worry, this site will be “updated soon”, perhaps after a few prunes are ingested. Hey, maybe they’ll break some news after breaking wind:

I’ll be giving blood long after the teatards who were butthurt over Dupnik’s truthful statements have moved on to the next nothingburger fauxrage. I hope you’ll join me.