News / Health

Blood of Young Mice Reverses Signs of Aging in Older Ones

A protein found in young mice, which is also found in humans, resulted in the formation of new blood vessels and improved blood flow in older mice.
A protein found in young mice, which is also found in humans, resulted in the formation of new blood vessels and improved blood flow in older mice.
Jessica Berman
Two new studies show that young blood reverses signs of aging in old mice, but that doesn't mean scientists have finally found the elusive fountain of youth.

However, the discovery could one day help people lead healthier lives.

In two papers published in Science, Harvard University researchers in Boston describe how the protein GDF11, found in higher levels in the blood of young mice, improved the brain and muscle function of older mice.

GDF11 appears to work by stimulating the development of new blood vessels. The protein is also present in humans.

In one experiment, researchers increased the levels of GDF11 in aging mice by surgically connecting the circulatory systems of young mice to the old rodents.  

Blood containing higher levels of GDF11 flowed through the veins of both animals. In another experiment, they injected the protein into elderly mice. Scientists saw the greatest improvement in function in mice that shared the same blood supply.

Investigators saw the formation of new blood vessels and improved blood flow in older mice, which they say reversed signs of aging in every tissue they looked at.

Researcher Lee Rubin, professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard's Stem Cell Institute, and his team investigated the effect of GDF11 on brain tissue.  

"So, this simple surgery, infusing an old mouse with young blood, actually produced some structural changes in the old brain, making the old brain, in essence, more like [a] young brain," he said. "And some people have used the phrase 'rejuvenating the old brain.'  And similar things were observed in other tissues."

Rubin colleague Amy Wagers observed that GDF11 repaired DNA damage associated with aging.  In prior experiments with the protein, Wagers and colleagues noted the enlarged, weakened hearts of older mice returned to a more youthful size and beat more efficiently.  So-called diastolic heart failure, a fatal condition, is common in aging humans and this research raises hopes the disease may be reversible.

Similarly, Rubin says GDF11 possibly could improve memories for Alzheimer's disease patients or movement for Parkinson's victims. But he says the protein is not a "fountain of youth," and the aim of research is not increasing, but improving life span.

"In other words, even if you did not live more years, at least you could remain healthier for the number of years you do live," he said. "And I think again, what we've shown is functional improvement in ... various different tissues in mice."

In an article in Nature, published simultaneously, researchers at Stanford University in California report blood from young mice improved neural circuits, enhancing learning and memory in older rodents.

Researchers in Massachusetts and California have teamed with biotechnology firms to see whether the findings can be translated to humans. Harvard University's Lee Rubin predicts clinical trials could begin in three to five years.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sharon from: Georgia
May 30, 2014 4:05 PM
OMG find me 1000 young mice.


by: David from: Kent
May 09, 2014 10:31 PM
O god, this sounds like the premise for a sci-fi horror story.


by: Gregg Williamson from: Oregon USA
May 05, 2014 3:19 PM
Ok, so sharing the blood helped the older mice, but what did
it do to the younger mice?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid