Why Young Blood Might Be the Key to Eternal Youth

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Like it or not, we're part of a culture that goes to extreme lengths to keep ourselves young. Injections, bee-sting skin treatments, placenta face masks...the list just gets longer and weirder from there.

But, what if there were a simpler solution? A fountain-of-youth treatment that would rejuvenate us, inside and out? New "bleeding-edge" research from Harvard and Stanford suggests that young blood could turn back the clock—in a number of exciting ways.

The story starts back in the 1950s, when some particularly adventurous scientists decided to look for a fountain of youth by surgically attaching the blood vessels of young mice to elderly ones. The process, which they called parabiosis, resulted in younger-looking cartilage in the elderly mice.

Now scientists know that stem cells are responsible for the growth of new tissue, which keeps organs acting "young"—that is, working efficiently. Studies from the early 2000s found that old mice and young mice had similar numbers of stem cells, but those cells were inactive in the older subjects.

Scientists then set about looking for the compound that caused stem cells to contribute to new tissue growth in younger bodies. Research at Harvard discovered that when older mice were injected with a protein called GDF11—which is common in the blood of younger animals, but not in older ones—their hearts showed signs of rejuvenation. [Click here to read the full story at Refinery29!]

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