A startup that promises to use young blood to rejuvenate older bodies has opened five locations across the US.
Ambrosia sells plasma taken from 16- to 25-year-old donors to offer ‘health benefits’ to customers over 30 in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tampa, Omaha and Houston.
In recent years, there have been a number of studies exploring the benefits of infusions of young plasma for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, among others.
But there is little evidence and no proof that the controversial – and slightly creepy – transfusions have anti-aging effects.
That hasn’t stopped Ambrosia from opening its clinics and charging between $8,000 and $12,000 to pump young blood through older veins.
If you are over 30 years of age, you can now get ‘rejuvenating’ young plasma transfused into your veins at one of five Ambrosia clinics offering the controversial and unproven procedure
As we age, the quality of every component part of our bodies starts to decline – and that includes our blood.
Plasma in particular – the portion of blood that Ambrosia transfuses – contains proteins that are key transport vehicles to carry nutrients, make sure the blood is the right consistency to maintain a healthy blood pressure and to be able to clot, among a host of other functions.
So the vampire-like theory that younger blood would make older people stronger and younger has some basis in biochemistry.
And then there are the mouse studies that resemble another horror trope: parabiosis research, in which two animals are surgically attached to one another.
When a young mouse is stitched to an older one so that their circulatory systems are joined, researchers see, time and time again, incredible changes to both animals.
The procedure is restorative to the older mouse, and the younger one actually ages at an accelerated rate.
And the Franken-mouse experiments were the inspiration and the basis for Dr Jesse Karmazin to found Ambrosia.
‘While I was in medical school I did continue resarch on aging and it turns out that it’s a real process at the molecular level – aging is a physical thing,’ the Stanford-educated doctor and businessman told Daily Mail Online.
‘I saw it in parabiosis in mice that it could reverse aging. When you’re seeing those transfusions,’ he says, he felt that this was science that could help fight aging in people too.
So, over three years ago, he founded Ambrosia and, in 2016, began a clinical trial transfusing young human plasma to older people.
The trial ran for two years and tested its effects on 100 people of all sorts.
‘It wasn’t designed for patients with any one disease,’ says Dr Karmazin.
‘We included [the participants] because they came to us with Alzheimer’s, stroke, heart disease … but it was mostly focused on aging more broadly defined.’
He claims that the trial is the first to study this treatment, though earlier this month a biotech firm published the promising results of its own trial on young blood transfusions for Parkinson’s patients.
The Ambrosia trial measured biomarkers for signs of aging, like inflammation as well as cardiovascular disease, though Dr Karmazin says that they were looking at biomarkers for cancer too, something that they’re very interested in.
He concedes that young plasma won’t fix everything – but talks about it as though it’s just shy of a silver bullet, even though Ambrosia’s (very limited) website advertises it as more of a rejuvenation than a medical treatment.
‘It’s all very promising in terms of being a useful treatment for helping people with chronic disease,’ Karmazin says.
‘Aging and diseases of aging are pretty much the same idea. The aging of a whole person is just the aging of all its parts.’
Since the five Ambrosia clinics opened at the start of the year, business has been pretty slow, says Karmazin – though he hopes the eventual publication of their clinical trial results will help draw more people in, to fix whatever ails them.
‘Some people are healthy but looking to stay in good health or hoping to be treated in a way that will slow down aging and some hope to become younger because they’ve read about these [parabiosis] mouse studies,’ says Dr Karmain.
‘And we think we’re able to provide that as well.’