Silicon Valley tech companies are using COVID-19 blood samples of young people collected during donations for treatment trial to reverse the aging process. Billions of dollars were invested in geroscience months before the pandemic officially began.
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Grifols, a Spanish firm set off a fuss in 2020 when it offered nearly double the going price for blood donations for treatment trial for covid-19.
Administrators at Brigham Young University’s campus in southeastern Idaho said they were “deeply troubled” by reports that students may have intentionally tried to contract COVID-19, lured by blood donation centers that were paying a premium for plasma with COVID-19 antibodies.
The trial failed. But they managed to collect blood samples of young people.
Now, the Barcelona-based firm is hoping to extract something new from plasma of young people.
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They found microscopic molecules from the plasma of young volunteers that can reverse the aging process itself.
Grifols closed on a $146 million-deal to buy a company named Alkahest. This company was founded by Tony Wyss-Coray, a Stanford University neuroscientist.
He revealed that blood from young mice had amazing restoring effects on brains of elderly mice in his scientific papers published in 2011 and 2014.
This company has discovered more than 8000 proteins in the blood that show potential promise as therapies.
Efforts of Grifols and Alkahest resulted in at least six phase 2 trials completed or underway to treat a wide range of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Geroscientists are putting efforts to understand how many diseases like arthritis, heart-disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and more are related to human aging.
Their main objective is to understand the aging process and how to delay it.
The idea of illness and aging go hand in hand is not new. The idea that aging can be delayed or reversed is new.
Until recently, “people working on diseases did not think that aging was modifiable,” says Felipe Sierra, who recently retired as director of the Division of Aging Biology, part of the National Institutes of Health.
“That is actually what many medical books say: The main risk factor for cardiovascular disease is aging, but we cannot change aging so let’s talk about cholesterol and obesity.
For Alzheimer’s, aging is the main risk factor—but let’s talk about the buildup in the brain of beta-amyloid proteins. Now that is beginning to change.”
Many biotech firms wanted to commercialize the new science and that made investors to invest billions of dollars on it months before the pandemic officially started.
The plasma industry is worth over $24 billion today, according to the Marketing Research Bureau, and that number could nearly double by 2027, as global demand for plasma-derived medicine rises by 6% to 8% each year.
Unlike those going toward transfusions, plasma donations destined for medication do not need to be labeled as voluntary or paid.
That’s led to a boom in private, for-profit plasma centers across the US, with the number of centers tripling over the past 15 years.
According to analysts at Fortune Business Insights, two-thirds of these centers are owned by one of three companies: CSL Plasma, Grifols, and BioLife.
There are some firms that are working on drugs and infusions made to clean up metabolic junk and zombie-like cells. These cells get accumulated with age.
The NIA, under its director, Richard Hodes, recently announced plans to spend about $100 million over the next five years on basic research aimed at understanding “cellular senescence.”
“You have no idea how many people are interested to investing money in longevity,” said Nir Barzilai, the founding director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, and the founder of a company aimed at mitochondrial health. “There are billions of dollars.”
These efforts will remain in preclinical development and few of them have already entered in FDA trials. There are chances that these trials may hit the market potentially in coming years.
Some had already entered in gray market and peddling anti-aging snake oil. Some are wondering what will happen, if these drugs could not deliver the desired or promised results.
There are so many questions that are popping into the minds of people. Young people may be concerned about selling their blood to rich old billionaires.
However, there are more serious concerns regarding blood samples collection as reported by GreatGameIndia earlier.
BGI Group, the world’s largest genomics company which provided COVID-19 tests worldwide including India, has been exposed as a front for the Chinese military.
According to Bill Evanina, America’s top counterintelligence officer, Chinese military is trying to collect DNA samples from foreign nations using BGI Group as a front, for use in their Bioweapons program.
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