Photo courtesy of scicurious.scientopia.org
According to a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University, rats may just have found the fountain of youth. Scientists injected older mice with the blood of younger mice, and what they found is astonishing. After the young blood was injected into the old mice, the brain and muscles started to show improvement in function. They also found that after four weeks neurons and muscle tissue were being produced. They then took the old mice that were injected with young blood and compared them to control old mice while they performed various tasks like maze navigating, and running on a treadmill. The old mice easily outperformed the control group. When the reverse happened, and young mice were injected with old blood, there seemed to be reverse effects. The young mice seemed to reverse in aging.
While animal studies are almost always intriguing with new and interesting ideas, it is hard to say that the implications that this has on human beings is reliable. There is always the possibility of chance, and with more studies in the future, I think there could be some reliable data for rats. For humans however I think that is a completely different story. There is also the problem of third-confounding variables. What were the living conditions like for the rats? Their diets? There may also be complications with their genetic predispositions. I do however like the use of a control group to compare the injected mice with. I don’t think there is a problem with reverse causation however, because the control group helps to eliminate that problem.
This study may be a breakthrough for mice, but when it comes to the implications it has on humans, I think there is much left to be desired.
“New Studies Show That Young Blood Reverses the Effects of Aging When Put into Older Mice.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/new-studies-show-that-young-blood-reverses-the-effects-of-aging-when-put-into-older-mice/2014/05/04/1346baac-d2eb-11e3-8a78-8fe50322a72c_story.html>.