Vampires, liches, and immortal alchemists rejoice! Your diabolical practices have been vindicated… sort of… We’re still keeping an eye on you.
In a headline straight out of The Dark Crystal, stem cell biologist Amy Wagers and cardiologist Richard Lee were able to reverse the aging process for a specific heart condition by infusing an old mouse with blooooood from a young mouse. Awesome.
As the heart ages, the muscles grow thicker (hypertrophy), and eventually the heart is unable to properly pump blood. Diastolic heart failure previously had no treatment, but a technique first devised in the 19th century to study nutrient transfer between circulatory systems seems to have shed new light on how to rejuvenate ailing hearts. In heterochronic parabiosis, two animals are joined together so that they share a circulatory system. In this case, a five-year-old mouse was paired with a two-month-old mouse. The scientists discovered that something in the new blood was causing the older mouse’s heart muscles to thin out to normal levels—much like the younger mouse.
I say “something” because as of publication, the team is not 100% sure what is causing it. But most signs point to a regulatory protein called growth differentiation factor 11. GDF-11 is produced in abundance until old age, where it regulates the growth of spinal and smell receptors. As part of the aging process, production of GDF-11 drops off, which made it a likely option to explore. Other experiments have also shown promise that this is the mechanism Wagers and Lee are looking for. If they can pinpoint the cause, they could revolutionize the treatment of this stubborn heart ailment, and put the blood of the innocent back on the market. nya ha ha ha ha….
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