The Grapevine

Young Blood To Reverse Aging: FDA Warns Against Risky Treatment

What is the secret to eternal youth? Some would say it all comes down to good genes and a healthy lifestyle. Others may also believe in using beauty products and opting for surgical procedures.

It might or might not surprise you that certain people are even turning to young blood, specifically plasma — the liquid part of the blood which contains proteins. The idea is that injecting older people with plasma donated by adolescents or young adults could slow down aging and ward off age-related health problems.

Now, after reports of this "treatment" came to the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, the agency is warning people to stay away from it. Not only is the anti-aging benefit unproven, but the infusion may also have the potential to do damage.

"There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product," Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA, and Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

"The reported uses of these products should not be assumed to be safe or effective. We strongly discourage consumers from pursuing this therapy outside of clinical trials under appropriate institutional review board and regulatory oversight," they added.

While no particular company was identified by the FDA, media reports have mentioned Ambrosia Medical, a San Francisco-based startup. As a part of a clinical trial, Ambrosia charged $8,000 to transfuse a liter of blood sourced from individuals aged 16 to 25.

Jesse Karmazin, the founder of the company, said the trial had offered promising results. After the transfusion, blood biomarkers associated with heart disease, certain cancers, Alzheimer's, etc. appeared to reduce. According to Karmazin, the participants also said they felt more energetic after the treatment.

This, however, is not certain as it could be chalked up to the placebo effect — the lack of a placebo group in the trial was criticized by several experts. As the new FDA warning notes, others have also expressed concerns about this transfusion potentially being dangerous.

"They quite likely could inflict bodily harm," Irina Conboy, a researcher from the University of California, Berkeley, told Business Insider last year. "You are being infused with somebody else’s blood and it doesn’t match. That unleashes a strong immune reaction."

The FDA has requested that individuals come forward if they have experienced any adverse effects from opting for this type of plasma treatment in the past — you can send them a report via this page

"As a growing number of clinics offer plasma from young donors and similar therapies, we want to encourage consumers considering treatments to ask their health care providers to confirm that the FDA has reviewed any treatment that is investigational," the agency added.