Is fresh blood the key to an ageless brain?

Never in a million years would I have thought that human blood, of all things, might play a role in tackling one of the greatest health threats of our time. (And I’ve been known to appreciate a good vampire TV show here and there.)

So imagine my shock when I came across the following headline recently:

“Human blood may offer a fresh approach for dementia treatment.”

The sad reality is that there is very little hope available to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. And boy, are we ever in need of a fresh approach to addressing these conditions. Which just makes this latest discovery that much more newsworthy.

Granted, it’s still early to get too excited about this. As of right now, research remains limited to experiments on mice. But the findings so far are incredibly encouraging… and the results of a new study featuring actual human Alzheimer’s patients should be rolling in soon.

So let’s take a minute to look at what we know so far…

Starting with this: Apparently, doctors have reported memory improvements in Alzheimer’s patients who have received recent blood transfusions. The subsequent brain boosts reportedly last for days following the procedure.

Using this anecdotal evidence as a springboard for their study, researchers decided to infuse old mice with the plasma of young mice. (Previous experiments have shown that this strategy works to rejuvenate immune-compromised mice.)

And incredibly, they found similar cognitive improvements to the ones doctors have reported in human patients.

Behavioral changes in the infused mice were consistent with what you would see following the generation of new neurons. Which, if accurate, would mean that plasma transfusions somehow enable the brain to reverse the neuron loss linked to Alzheimer’s disease — leading, of course, to better brain function.

And these improvements didn’t simply last days. They lasted a full three months post-infusion.

As I mentioned, results from human subjects aren’t in quite yet.

The first goal, of course, is to determine the safety of this approach. But if preliminary results are as promising as they were in the mice experiments, it could completely change the way we treat a whole host of diseases. And not just neurodegenerative ones, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

If plasma infusions are able to regenerate other organs, like the liver and muscle, in humans, the possibilities could be endless.

I realize this sounds straight out of a science fiction novel. (I can already picture Netflix producing a TV series about it.) But lucky for us all, there are real facts on the table here.

And considering how few options there are for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, I doubt I’m alone in thinking that anything novel is worth a try. So stay tuned, because I will definitely be keeping an eye on this story.