PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) - The search for eternal youth has taken one Stanford School of Medicine graduate back to an old concept, in hopes of furthering human longevity.
Until recently, blood donations were a way of stockpiling supply for emergencies and natural disaster response. That's all changed thanks to the new practice of using the essence of life to help older people become young again.
"It's not going to erase 50 years of aging, but it's a medium amount of improvement," said Jesse Karmazin, an M.D. never licensed to practice medicine as reported in the Mercury News.
A graduate of the Stanford School of Medicine and founder of the startup-- Ambrosia-- he said more than two years ago, he decided to apply the animal research practice of parabiosis, to humans. Parabiosis research linked two mice, one older and one young, in a blood transfusion. The blood from the young rodent, reversed the effects of aging in the older one.
Karmazin is using the method on people, charging $8,000 for one, one-liter treatment every six months. Or $12,000 for a double dose.
Ambrosia offers transfusion clinics in five cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tampa, Omaha and Houston. Plans to open a clinic in New York City never materialized.
In the 1970s drama, "The Immortal," a similar idea served as fodder for the weekly TV plot. Back then, a younger man tried to escape giving his blood to his older, who needed the transfusion to live.
Today, people 16-to-25 years old have no idea the blood they donate could end up turning back someone else's clock. So far, 150 patients, with a median age of 60, have received the treatments, or come back for seconds.
"It increases the levels of healthy proteins that young people have. Organs did return to a young state. They did improve in terms of function in terms of rolling back the clock on aging," said Karmazin.
Karmazin won't say if he's undergone the procedure, and shrugs off questions about long-term safety, saying blood transfusions are a common medical procedure.
The Mercury News reports two UC Berkeley researchers who have studied these types of transfusions described the treatment as dangerous.
Karmazin said his technology is more than just a quest to ward off the Grim Reaper. It could lead to cures for things such as heart disease and Alzheimer's. But the real draw is the age-old desire to be forever young.
It could take decades to know, if using the blood of the young will help extend the lifespan of all people.
This article has been updated to include information from an original report from The Mercury News.