Of (young) Mice and Men

Of_Mice_And_Men_PosterIn case you missed the media hype, recent studies in mice have raised the possibility that someday some of the effects of aging might be reversed.  Preliminary research along three tracks in mice suggests that factors found younger blood might have such potential.  First researchers joined the circulatory systems of older and younger mice and found that the older mice showed improvements in muscle, heart, liver, spinal cord, and brain tissues.  Next, researchers in Boston identified a rejuvenating protein in mouse blood known as growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) that may be partially responsible.  Recently researchers have found that simply giving older mice transfusions with blood products from younger mice can have a similar effect.  So where will all this lead us?  Will these concepts work in humans?  If it does work, will it be safe or create unanticipated side effects?  The field of rejuvenative medicine is in its infancy, so don’t expect fountain of youth treatments any time soon.  Normally to take a concept like this, fully understand it, and create a drug that is safe and effective can take a couple of decades.  However, since blood products are already given routinely in hospitals for all sorts of reasons, the potential to do trials, say, in Alzheimer’s patients might be considerably sped up.  Is it a story that’s too good to be true?  Probably, but certainly a story worth following and maybe a classic movie-to-be.