Young Blood Transfusions Can Rejuvenate Aging Brain

Posted: Apr 22 2017, 3:51am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 22 2017, 5:31am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Young Human Blood can Rejuvenate Aging Brain
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New study finds that babies' umbilical cord blood boosts memory and learning in older mice

Young human blood can help restore the function of aging brain, a new study suggests

Researchers have found a protein in human umbilical cord blood that can make aging brain smarter. When the protein was injected into the old mice, it reversed their memory loss and improved learning ability. This method could lead to new treatments for neurodegenerative disorders in humans and to improve declines in mental ability.

Umbilical cord blood is collected at childbirth and is a rich source of stem cells. This blood is already known for treating a number of chronic diseases including blood cancers, thalassemia and genetic diseases. But this is the first time cord blood has been tested in terms of boosting memory and learning in aging mice.

Blood of human teenagers had previously found to rejuvenate brains of older mice but new research shows that infant’s cord blood could have even more powerful effects on brain. New findings could potentially change the way researchers understand about the function of brain.

“The really exciting thing about this study, and previous studies that have come before it, is that we've sort of tapped into previously unappreciated potential of our blood - our plasma - and what it can do for reversing the harmful effects of aging on the brain.” Study lead author Joseph Castellano, an instructor in neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine said in a statement.

For the study, researchers from Stanford University took blood samples from humans at three different ages: babies, young people around the age of 22 and older around the age of 66.

Researchers injected the plasma from blood samples into the mice that were roughly the equivalent of 50 year old human. Then, they compared their effects on mice.

The mice that received the plasma from cord blood performed significantly better compared to the mice of other groups. Their performance was determined by various memory and learning tasks such as navigating a maze or fear conditioning exercises.

Modest improvements were observed in those mice that got injections of blood from young adults while mice with blood plasma from older adults showed no improvement at all.

The dramatic effects on memory and learning are attributed to a protein known as TIMP2 - which is more abundant in cord blood than it is in older blood.

“TIMP2's effects in the brain have been studied a little, but not much and not in aging," said Castellano. "In our study, it mimicked the memory and learning effects we were getting with cord plasma. And it appeared to do that by improving hippocampal function.”

Hipppcampus is a region of brain that plays a crucial role in memory and how we learn things.

Researchers suggest that the protein TIMP2 should be studied further, so they can get a better idea of how it effects the memory and boosts aging brain.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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