Emmanuelle Passegué, Ph.D., director of the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative, and other researchers from Columbia University have developed an anti-aging drug in the form of a pill that can be made from the blood of young people.
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Some wealthy elites prefer young blood plasma transfusions for anti-aging purposes. There are suggestions that the body’s organs are rejuvenated by young blood. However, a recent study from Columbia University in New York suggests that anti-inflammatory drugs can rejuvenate the body and possibly extend the human lifespan by decades, negating the need for blood transfusions to turn back the body’s clock.
According to Emmanuelle Passegué, Ph.D., director of the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative, who has been researching how blood changes with age, “an aging blood system, because it’s a vector for a lot of proteins, cytokines, and cells, has a lot of bad consequences for the organism,”
“A 70-year-old with a 40-year-old blood system could have a longer healthspan, if not a longer lifespan,” Passegué said.
Researchers discovered that young blood may be made as pills rather than a liter of plasma from younger donors, which could cost thousands of dollars.
Anakinra, an anti-inflammatory medication, has previously been licensed for use in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Anakinra has been shown to reverse some of the consequences of aging on the mouse hematopoietic system, according to Passegué and graduate student Carl Mitchell.
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“These results indicate that such strategies hold promise for maintaining healthier blood production in the elderly,” Mitchell said.
What failed, as described by Passegué and her group in a 2021 investigation published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, was:
to rejuvenate old hematopoietic stem cells, in mice, with exercise or calorie-restricting diet, both generally thought to slow the aging process. Neither worked. Transplanting old stem cells into young bone marrow also failed. Even young blood had no effect on rejuvenating old blood stem cells.
Her team subsequently learned these benefits of anakinra in mice:
Mitchell and Passegué then took a closer look at the stem cells’ environment, the bone marrow. “Blood stem cells live in a niche; we thought what happens in this specialized local environment could be a big part of the problem,” Mitchell says
With techniques developed in the Passegué lab that enable detailed investigation of the bone marrow milieu, the researchers found that the aging niche is deteriorating and overwhelmed with inflammation, leading to dysfunction in the blood stem cells.
One inflammatory signal released from the damaged bone marrow niche, IL-1B, was critical in driving these aging features, and blocking it with the drug, anakinra, remarkably returned the blood stem cells to a younger, healthier state.
Even more youthful effects on both the niche and the blood system occurred when IL-1B was prevented from exerting its inflammatory effects throughout the animal’s life.
The researchers are now trying to learn if the same processes are active in humans and if rejuvenating the stem cell niche earlier in life, in middle age, would be a more effective strategy.
Meanwhile, “treating elderly patients with anti-inflammatory drugs blocking IL-1B function should help with maintaining healthier blood production,” Passegué says, and she hopes the finding will lead to clinical testing.
“We know that bone tissue begins to degrade when people are in their 50s. What happens in middle age? Why does the niche fail first?” Passegué says. “Only by having a deep molecular understanding will it be possible to identify approaches that can truly delay aging.”
Recently, after experimenting on older mice, lead author Professor Michael Sheetz of the University of Texas claimed that ultrasound waves have a “fountain of youth” effect on cells.
Of course, the research is still in its infancy, and human subjects have not yet been tested with the results. However, it’s feasible that people may continue to Google the medicine as a potential anti-aging treatment.